NFL announces Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award nominees

Nov 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) celebrates his touchdown during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award nominees were formally announced on Tuesday. The annual award goes to the NFL player who demonstrates “outstanding sportsmanship on the playing field.”

Current NFL players will vote on the award, which will be announced prior to the Super Bowl in February.

The eventual recipient of the award will also be able to donate $25,000 to a charity of their choice. The award is named after the founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers while the first ever recipient of the honor was Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who won the award at the conclusion of the 2014 campaign and is still making plays on the field in his age-34 season.

Cardinals fan or not, Fitzgerald is beloved throughout the league. Rarely, if ever a trash talker, the veteran wide receiver has even offered to pay off the fines for fellow defenders in exchange for hitting high instead of low. During his award-winning year, he beat out Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, Denver Broncos pass rusher DeMarcus Ware and New England Patriots special teamer Matthew Slater.

The following year, the award was given to Oakland Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson. One of the most heralded defensive backs to patrol a NFL field, he spent two separate stints with the Raiders with another long pit stop with the Green Bay Packers in between. The reigning winner of the award is Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore.

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