Pittsburgh Steelers star safety and one of the best players to ever put on an Alabama uniform Minkah Fitzpatrick was awarded with the Bart Starr Award at the NFL Honors on the eve of the Super Bowl.
The award, which has been given out since 1989, is given to “the NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.”
Fitzpatrick became the first Alabama player to win the honor, and after he received the award he spoke about his faith and what got him through a difficult season in which he missed seven games due to injury.
“I remember asking myself questions. I’m trying to be a better man. I’m trying to be a good man. And I remember asking myself the question: ‘What is a good man?’ And I was dwelling on it for weeks. I pride myself on being a good man. But really what is that? I’m sitting in my prayer time, my quiet time, God started speaking to me, telling me a good man is a dead man. And at first I heard that and I was like, I don’t really know what that means. I want to live. But then he revealed it to me,” Fitzpatrick said according to Teresa Varley for the Steelers’ official website.
“One of the first requirements that Jesus gave his disciples was to take up his cross and to follow him. A lot of us think of the cross as gold crosses they wear on their neck or may have a tattoo. But the cross was an instrument of torture. It was an instrument of humiliation. It was an instrument for an evil cause, but what Jesus did when he got on the cross was turn it into a beautiful thing. The fact that he died on that cross and made the cross a beautiful thing is what God was saying to me. A good man is a dead man. A good man is a man who is willing to pick up his cross and follow Jesus. A good man is a man who’s willing to get up on that cross daily, sometimes multiple times throughout the day, pin his flesh to it and continue to follow Christ.”
It is fitting that an Alabama player has finally won the Bart Starr Award, as Starr himself was an Alabama legend both in high school at Sidney Lanier and while playing for the Crimson Tide.
Fitzpatrick is an Alabama legend himself, twice becoming a consensus All-American and twice winning national championships during his time in Tuscaloosa.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin attended the event as well to support Fitzpatrick, even though Tomlin stated that he does not like to be at the Super Bowl unless he is coaching in it.
“It’s not my style to be at the Super Bowl, site to be quite honest with you, unless I’m working. I’m leaving here and going directly to the airport. This man, Minkah Fitzpatrick, is so deserving of this recognition, I would not miss this. I read the description of what this award embodies — a man of high character, values, integrity and leadership on and off the field. And it could have just said: Minkah Fitzpatrick,” Tomlin said.