The award honors 32 NFL players annually – one from each team – who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. The recipients are selected solely by a vote from their teammates and the award symbolizes professionalism, great strength and dedication.
Best was honored for his steadfast dedication and determination in trying to return to the field over the last year from concussions.
“He earned the respect of all the guys in our training room and our medical department, our staff and our doctors that helped put together the rehabilitation protocol for him to come back and he did it all without question,” said Lions coordinator of athletic medicine and head athletic trainer Dean Kleinschmidt of Best.
“He did it with eagerness. He was ready to do whatever it took to get back on the field.”
Best ultimately came up short in his attempt to return to the field this season, though it wasn’t for a lack effort. In the end, he couldn't get the clearance for contact from independent doctors.
Best hasn’t played in a game since Week 6 of last season when he suffered his second concussion that year in a loss to the 49ers. He's spent the last year flying around the country seeking the advice of the countries best neurologists and was hopeful he could return.
The Lions were hopeful, too, placing the 2010 first-round pick on the Physically Unable to Perform list in hopes that he could return. When it became clear Best wasn’t going to get his clearance at the deadline for him to come off that list, the Lions placed him on season-ending injured reserve.
Best was honored Tuesday for his courage in trying to get back onto the field, but he said that the fight isn’t over yet.
“It’s disappointing, but I’m a glass half-full kind of guy,” Best told Detroitlions.com of having the 2012 season taken away from him. “To me it’s just a minor setback and I’m still working and still staying ready because when I do get my chance I’m going to be ready.
“They said I couldn't play this season, but they didn't close the door. It doesn't matter how long it takes me, as long as my body is fresh, then I’m going to stay ready to play. If they give me a chance, and they say it’s safe for me to play, then I’ll be out there.”
Best said he’s hopeful that time comes next season.
“I’m doing everything I can to get back."