On Tuesday, the veteran left guard was honored during a luncheon at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines as the Bears' recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.
The prestigious award is presented to one player on all 32 NFL teams who best exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage and serves as an inspiration in the locker room.
|Ruben Brown accepts the Ed Block Courage Award Tuesday at Maryville Academy.|
"It's one of those awards you don't set out to win, but when that honor's bestowed upon you ... I'm flattered, I truly am," Brown said. "For my teammates to think of me that way and to have gone through what I had to go through to get back on the field, I'm excited about it."
The recipients of the award symbolize professionalism, great strength and dedication, and they are considered community role models.
Bears coach Lovie Smith and players John Tait, Desmond Clark, Roberto Garza and John Gilmore offered their support for Brown by attending Tuesday's luncheon.
They were joined by Bears owner Virginia McCaskey and several members of her family. The event benefited the Ed McCaskey Scholarship Fund, honoring Virginia's late husband.
"Ruben's a great guy and when he got hurt in 2004 it was a big loss to our team," Tait said. "An injury to your neck is a scary thing. You never want to mess around with that.
"But the way he rehabbed and worked hard to come back, he was a huge reason why we were able to do some things on offense. Just his leadership and having him around is really invaluable. It's nice to see him get recognized for his efforts and coming back.
"He's the best teammate. Even though he's a veteran, he doesn't walk around like he's better than anyone else. He's quick to give you advice, and you definitely want to listen to somebody like that because he's been around the league a long time and has seen a lot of things."
Brown conceded that he was a bit tentative heading into last season because of the injury.
"It was more mental than physical," he said. "Physically, I did not suffer any side effects or anything like that. But mentally, it's your neck and it's football and you think about it a little bit more than if it was your knee, your ankle or your hand.
"I was a little bit more cautious going into the season, but then as things progressed I just forgot about it and went to work."
Brown signed with the Bears on April 2, 2004, after being voted to eight Pro Bowls in nine seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He contemplating retirement at the time, but is glad that he chose to continue playing given the bond he developed with his new teammates.
"I thought about retiring when I first came out here," Brown said. "That was in the back of my mind, and someone told me a long time ago that if you think about it, you're going to do it.
"But I've had so much fun out there with the group of guys that I'm working with that I just couldn't imagine (retiring) right now.
"I really enjoy playing next to (center Olin Kreutz) and the rest of the guys on the line. We have by far one of the best groups of players that I've been associated with since probably back in '96 or '97 when I was a (young) player with the Bills.
"We have that same type of chemistry in our locker room now. Everyone is for each other and it's just a great atmosphere to be in."
|Ruben Brown joined the Bears in 2004 after being selected to eight Pro Bowls in nine seasons with the Buffalo Bills.|
Ed Block was a long-time head trainer with the Baltimore Colts who was a pioneer in his field.
Maryville City of Youth was established in 1883. It was and continues to be a safe haven and an educator, providing children with opportunities to learn a trade, receive an education and eventually become contributing, productive citizens.
Bears radio play-by-play announced Jeff Joniak served as master of ceremonies for Tuesday's event and head trainer Tim Bream introduced Brown, who donates his time and money to several charitable causes.
Brown has been involved with "Dreams Take Flight," which grants wishes for terminally ill children, and the "Buffalo Prep" academic program for college-bound inner city students.
The Bills' 2001 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Brown is also active with the Salvation Army, hosting an annual Motorcycle Run Fundraiser and summer football camp.