LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Rams honored five players on Monday as the club announced their 2016 team awards.
In a vote amongst Rams players, DT AARON DONALD received the Daniel F. Reeves Memorial Award for the second-consecutive year, which goes to the team's Most Valuable Player. TE CORY HARKEY was named Carl Ekern Spirit of the Game Award winner and LB CORY LITTLETON was honored with the Carroll Rosenbloom Memorial Award, which is awarded to the team's top rookie.
P JOHNNY HEKKER is the Rams' recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in recognition of his commitment to community service. LB ALEC OGLETREE is this year's Rams Ed Block Courage Award winner, an honor given to a player on the team who had to overcome some form of adversity.
Daniel F. Reeves Memorial Award
2016 Winner: DT Aaron Donald
The Daniel F. Reeves Memorial Award was established in 1969 in honor of the former owner of the Rams, Dan Reeves, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. Reeves owned the Rams from 1941-71 and claimed World Championships in 1945 and 1951. He was the first to integrate football in the modern era with the signing of Woody Strode and Kenny Washington in 1946.
In only three years in the league, Donald has established himself as one of the NFL's most dominant interior defenders, concluding each of his three NFL seasons with a bid to the Pro Bowl.
Since entering the league, he's made his living in the backfield. Currently, Donald ranks first in sacks (28.0) and tackles-for-loss (57) among all defensive tackles since entering the league in 2014. Among all NFL players his tackle-for-loss total is second-best in the league while his 28.0 sacks is 10th-best.
Donald concluded the season with 36 tackles (11 assisted tackles), 8.0 sacks, 31 QB hits, two forced fumbles and a league-leading 17 tackles-for-loss.
Carl Ekern Spirit of the Game Award
2016 Winner: TE Cory Harkey
Established in 1990, the Carl Ekern Spirit of the Game Award is given to the player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, ethic, and commitment to his teammates. Those traits were displayed by former Rams linebacker Carl Ekern, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1990. Ekern was a starter for the Rams from 1982-88 and earned an invitation to the Pro Bowl in 1986.
In his fifth NFL season, Harkey emerged as a leader both on and off the field. Despite going on the injured/reserve list during the 2016 campaign, his versatility and toughness were invaluable and have been throughout his career as he has lined up in multiple spots as a fullback and tight end. He served as the lead blocker for the Rams' first Pro Bowl running back since 2010 last season and as a core special teams member, Harkey is known for regularly leading meetings and helped contribute to multiple NFL special teams records and milestones. This year's honor marks the third time that Harkey has been a recipient of the award (2014, 2015, 2016).
Carroll Rosenbloom Memorial Award
2016 Winner: LB Cory Littleton
The Carroll Rosenbloom Memorial Award is given to the team's Rookie of the Year and was established following the passing of former owner Carroll Rosenbloom in 1979. Rosenbloom became the owner of the Rams when he orchestrated an unprecedented franchise trade in 1972.
Littleton signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in May and has steadily made progress during his tenure with the club. Initially, Littleton's contributions came primarily on special teams and after the loss of fellow LB Josh Forrest to injury, he became a key cog on defense. He played in every game during his rookie season.
Ed Block Courage Award
2016 Winner: LB Alec Ogletree
After suffering a season-ending injury in Week 4 of last season and undergoing offseason surgery, Ogletree emerged at the start of the 2016 offseason workout program as the team's starting middle linebacker.
Ogletree finished the season as the team's leader in tackles with 171 in his first year playing the 'MIKE' linebacker for the Rams. The total is a single-season personal best and the fifth-highest total in franchise history. In just four seasons with the Rams, Ogletree has three seasons in the top 10 for highest single-season tackle totals, which is the most of any Ram.
He also added two interceptions, 11 passes defenses, 9 tackles-for-loss, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery in 2016.
Rams Walter Payton Man of the Year
2016 Award Winner: Johnny Hekker
At the end of the season, the Rams announced Hekker as the team's 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee in recognition of his commitment to philanthropy and civic leadership. He and 31 other nominees are now eligible to win the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which is the only league award that recognizes a player for his excellence on and off the field.
Through his father's work with individuals with developmental disorders, Hekker established a passion for helping those with special needs. He has capitalized on his influence as an NFL player to help spread awareness of special needs issues through the Special Olympics Illinois and Team Activities for Special Kids (TASK), a St. Louis-based nonprofit that offers year-round instructional sports programs to kids with special needs. Once the Rams relocated from St. Louis to L.A., the three-time Pro Bowler found a variety of ways to give back to his new home by participating in community events such as the Rams' PLAY 60 Field Day, NFL Draft Party, Taste of the NFL, and helped grant wishes for children battling life-threatening illnesses in partnership with Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles. Hekker finished the season as the Rams leader in community appearances.