Zach Miller was named the recipient of the Bears 2018 Ed Block Award, bestowed on the player who best displays professionalism, strength, dedication and is a role model in the community, the team announced Monday.
Those qualities describe to a tee Miller, the Bears tight end who suffered a devastating, likely career-ending knee injury during the 2017 season that nearly led to his leg being amputated and required nine separate surgeries.
Miller, 34, the team's 2015 Brian Piccolo Award winner, signed a one-year contract with the Bears last summer, working closely with their tight ends in practices and meetings as he continued rehabbing his injury. The Bears are likely to bring Miller back again this season in a similar capacity, though nothing official has yet been announced.
Over his 10-year career, Miller logged 146 catches for 1,631 yards and 13 touchdowns in 66 regular-season games. A model of perseverance, Miller endured several catastrophic injuries and was out of the game for nearly four full years prior to enjoying a career year in 2015, his first in Chicago, with 439 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Miller followed up his 2015 breakthrough with a career-high 47 catches and 486 yards in only 10 games in 2016 and was building on his success two years ago. That's when he suffered a dislocated left knee and torn popliteal artery while catching what should have been called a touchdown in New Orleans in Week 8 of the 2017 season. Miller was rushed to University Medical Center New Orleans for emergency vascular surgery and remained there for weeks, winning the battle to save his leg.
The injury robbed Miller of his playing career, the officials robbed him of his final touchdown in what's become one of the textbook plays for the league revising its catch rule. Regardless, the charismatic Miller, one of the more well-liked players at Halas Hall, never wavered, maintaining his upbeat personality and inspiring teammates and fans alike.
Miller remained with the franchise last season as it underwent wholesale coaching changes, a testament to his character and the organization's class. Although he's one of the last remaining Bears from the Phil Emery-John Fox regime, his unrelenting enthusiasm and dedication to his team epitomize the culture instilled since the arrival of Matt Nagy.
The Ed Block Award began 39 years ago in Baltimore and is named after Ed Block, the former longtime Baltimore Colts athletic trainer. Block and his wife dedicated their lives to helping distressed children by opening Courage Houses, 23 of which are presently connected to NFL clubs.
Miller will be presented the award Tuesday at Manzo's Banquets in Des Plaines.