The Redskins voted defensive end Stephen Bowen the winner of the team’s Ed Block Courage Award in recognition of how Bowen dealt with the death of his son, 10-day-old Skyler. The child, born four months premature, passed away in May.
Bowen has remained an upbeat teammate while caring for Skyler’s twin brother, Stephen III, who is now living at home and developing normally, Bowen said.
Bowen revealed Thursday that he also has been dealing with more. In the early morning hours Sunday, his mother-in-law, Muriel Johnson, passed away after a long bout with muscular dystrophy. She was 59.
How was he able to play in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets?
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Bowen said. “I really don’t know. I mean, it was a hard decision.”
Johnson was staying with Bowen and his wife, Tiffany, when she died. Bowen was at the team hotel when he received a message from security with the news. He informed the team and began wrestling with the decision of whether to play.
“He kept us informed the whole way,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “I told him, talking to him early in the morning, ‘Stephen, obviously you’ve got to take care of your family first. You got to take care of your wife. You just got to let me know what you’re going to do, one way or another. And I understand.’ …
“Your faith and family come first, and then football’s after that. He’s a tough-minded guy, and he’s one of those guys that he’s not going to let his other family down, which is the football part of it.”
That part, Bowen said, was difficult to concentrate on.
“Just try to separate the two,” he said. “Just try to clear my mind. When I’m on the field, it’s just all about football. Last game was really hard. I was losing focus a lot. But I just tried to do the best I could.”
Bowen, though, said he is comfortable with his decision to play.
“I think it was the right decision,” he said. “I know if she was here, she would’ve wanted me to play. It was just a game-time decision that had to be made.”
Stephen Bowen III is home with the family, and his father estimates he’s up to 13 pounds. “He’s past all the premature stuff,” Bowen said. But that is the one positive development in a trying year.
“I don’t wish for anybody to go through none of the stuff I’ve been through,” Bowen said. “It’s really hard, especially all this stuff happening in one year, in a span of five months. I’m glad they recognize that I’m still trying to work hard and get it done on the field, but I don’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
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