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Thursday, December 31, 2009
Award recognizes bravery, toughness

By Tim MacMahon

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys recognized special teams coach Joe DeCamillis' remarkable bravery and toughness by making him the fourth man in league history to receive the Special Courage Award.


Players voted for DeCamillis, who hasn't missed a practice despite suffering a broken neck in May, to receive the award, which accompanies the Ed Block Courage Award given to a player on each team. The only previous recipients of the Special Courage Award were Miami Dolphins president and chief executive officer Eddie Jones in 1999, former Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale in 2006 and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau last season.

The Cowboys have been inspired by DeCamillis' will since the beginning of organized team activities, when he wore a bulky neck brace and used Tom Landry's old bullhorn while coaching 15 days after he was injured in the collapse of the team's indoor facility.

DeCamillis' story took another painful twist Sunday afternoon, when he was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Doctors also repaired a hernia he didn't know he had.

"I think my family is really going to be glad when 2010 gets here, that's for sure," said DeCamillis, who watched the Cowboys' win over the Washington Redskins from his hospital bed in Virginia and returned to work at Valley Ranch two days later.

The Cowboys also announced that left guard Kyle Kosier, who fought back after missing almost all of last season with a broken foot, was voted by teammates as Dallas' Ed Block Courage Award winner this season.

"He deserves it more than any of us for what he's gone through in the last six or seven months," Kosier said of DeCamillis.

Scouting assistant Rich Behm was not recognized by the league, but his courage is definitely not overlooked at Valley Ranch. He was paralyzed from the waist down when the indoor facility collapsed but returned to work over the summer. College scouting coordinator Chris Hall and assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither also missed minimal time after sustaining serious injuries in the accident.

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.