In the NFL, sportsmanship is not usually the first order of business. The league has tried cracking down on TD celebrations, sack dances, anything that could be possibly considered taunting, trying to get its players to look like they’re better sports.
But some guys truly are great sportsmen. For them there is a very special award: The Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.
Each season the award is presented to a player who “… best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.”
Every one of the 32 teams gets a nominee for the award, which was first handed out in 2014. This year the Chargers’ nominee is quarterback Philip Rivers.
Rivers may seem like an interesting choice for a sportsmanship award since he’s also known as one of the best trash talkers in the National Football League. However … teammates, officials, and even opposing players and coaches truly respect the man for his competitive spirit. Plus, the fact he never swears is somehow endearing.
The 32 nominees will be narrowed down to eight finalists by a special panel. Those final eight will be subject to a vote by current players. The winner will be revealed at the NFL Honors Show on Saturday, February 4 (the night before Super Bowl LI) and receive $25,000 for the charity of his choice.
Here is the full list of nominees:
Arizona Cardinals – DT Calais Campbell
Atlanta Falcons – FB Patrick DiMarco
Baltimore Ravens – G Marshal Yanda
Buffalo Bills – DT Kyle Williams
Carolina Panthers – TE Greg Olsen
Chicago Bears – LB Sam Acho
Cincinnati Bengals – WR A.J. Green
Cleveland Browns – T Joe Thomas
Dallas Cowboys – CB Brandon Carr
Denver Broncos – LB DeMarcus Ware
Detroit Lions – S Glover Quin
Green Bay Packers – LB Julius Peppers
Houston Texans – LB Brian Cushing
Indianapolis Colts – RB Frank Gore
Jacksonville Jaguars – LB Paul Posluszny
Kansas City Chiefs – LB Derrick Johnson
Los Angeles Rams – DE Robert Quinn
Miami Dolphins – T Branden Albert
Minnesota Vikings – CB Terence Newman
New England Patriots – S Devin McCourty
New Orleans Saints – T Zach Strief
New York Giants – WR Victor Cruz
New York Jets – WR Brandon Marshall
Oakland Raiders – QB Derek Carr
Philadelphia Eagles – RB Darren Sproles
Pittsburgh Steelers – LB Arthur Moats
San Diego Chargers – QB Philip Rivers
San Francisco 49ers – T Joe Staley
Seattle Seahawks – WR Tyler Lockett
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- DT Gerald McCoy
Tennessee Titans – QB Marcus Mariota
Washington Redskins – QB Kirk Cousins
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald won the inaugural Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award in 2014. Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson took it home in 2015.