Following practice last Thursday, Head Coach Doug Pederson gathered the team together. It was during that time when he announced that defensive end Joe Ostman was the team's recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, an honor that is bestowed upon a player who exemplifies commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage in a vote of his teammates.
Immediately after receiving the news, Ostman called the three people who have been the first to learn about the good, the bad, and everything in between – his parents, Joe and Angie, and his younger sister, Abbey.
"They've been the ones I've called first for pretty much everything in my career since I was a little kid. They've basically experienced everything I have during my career playing football, so I had to let them know first," Ostman said.
It was those three who were on the receiving end of a call on August 4, 2019, shortly after Ostman suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his knee during a special teams portion of a Training Camp practice at Lincoln Financial Field.
"I knew right away," Ostman said. "It felt almost like a gunshot in the middle of the knee. It was devastating. There's really no other way to put it. I tried not to dwell on it for long. It took a little bit to swallow that pill."
Ostman originally signed with the Eagles as a rookie free agent in 2018 after a storied career at Central Michigan, where he finished second in school history in both sacks and tackles for loss. He spent the entirety of his rookie season on the practice squad and was in the midst of a serious run at a roster spot when he injury happened.
"Three weeks into camp. Camp had been going well for me. I was feeling better than I ever have on a football field," he said.
As he braced for the unknown, never going through a serious injury, he thanked his teammates who were able to provide insight into what lied ahead.
"Their influence on me was huge and I knew that I just had to attack the rehab and make the most of it. I knew it was going to be a long road. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew it was going to be tough," Ostman said. "I just tried to put my head down and work and keep a positive mindset."
Some days, Ostman admits, were easier than others.
"I had lots of low moments, definitely, throughout this process with the injury. Everyone goes through certain things throughout their career. It's really just about how you respond to that. No matter how you feel, how are you going to come to work the next day, what attitude are you going to walk into the building with. I always tried to control those things even if I was feeling down. I could not let that show through my work or my attitude in the building," Ostman said.
"I knew there was hope. I knew that I could do it. It's just about your mentality and your work ethic."
Ostman also thanked Eagles Physical Therapist/Assistant Athletic Trainer Steve Feldman for his guidance through the rehab process.
"I wouldn't be back to where I am at now without Steve, there's no doubt about it. I really couldn't have asked for anything more from a physical therapist or someone leading up my rehab," Ostman said. "He always pushed me. He was always open to different things I wanted to work on or what we thought we should work on. I genuinely believe that he made a huge difference in my progression throughout the process."
Ostman returned for Training Camp and earned a spot on the practice squad once again heading into the regular season. Tackle Jordan Mailata is one of several offensive linemen who applaud Ostman for helping them get ready for gameday with his looks on the scout team.
"Jordan and I came in together three years ago, so we've spent a lot of time practicing against each other as well. I would say Jordan's like a brother to me, really. He's a great guy. It's an honor to me that he said that I helped to make him a better player because he's done the same for me in a huge way," Ostman said.
Four weeks ago, Ostman's work and perseverance paid off as he was called up from the practice squad for the Week 11 game in Cleveland. Ostman played 14 snaps on defense and special teams in his NFL debut.
"I felt that I was close to getting on the field and obviously was excited for that," Ostman said. "When that injury came, it set things back a little bit, but getting on the field this year was huge for me and I'm just continuing to try to build on that."
When Ostman is not improving his craft or getting his teammates ready on the practice field, he is heavily involved in volunteering for the Eagles' weekly community events.
"I enjoy doing that stuff and I'm thankful that the Eagles have given us a platform to do that weekly because I enjoy being able to give back," Ostman said. "I just think back to when I was a young kid and the way I love NFL players and guys that I saw playing on TV. Any impact that I can have on kids who are in maybe tough situations or if they have a dream, I just want to be there to talk to them and have an impact on them when I can."
Ostman joins an impressive list of previous Ed Block Courage Award winners including Eagles Hall of Famers Ron Jaworski (1985) and Mike Quick (1989) and Jerome Brown (1992), Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach Duce Staley (2001), and teammates like Brandon Brooks (2019), Carson Wentz (2018), Fletcher Cox (2015), and Jason Kelce (2013).