The NFL announced the eight finalists for the 2017 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award featuring four players from each conference. The AFC finalists are Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Jets quarterback Josh McCown, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and Browns tackle Joe Thomas, and the NFC finalists are Redskins tight end Vernon Davis, Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and 49ers tackle Joe Staley.
Staley (2015 and 2016), Smith (2014) and Kuechly (2015) have been named finalists in previous years. Gates (2014), McCown (2015) and Thomas (2016) have been nominated by their teams in previous seasons but are first-time finalists; Davis and Ngata are first-time nominees.
Each team nominated one of its players for the award, which recognizes those who best demonstrate the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition. The award was created in 2014 in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Rooney, Sr.
A panel from the NFL Legends Community comprised of Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler selected the eight finalists from the 32 nominees.
Current NFL players will vote for the winner when they submit their Pro Bowl Ballots on Friday, Dec. 15. The eight finalists will be listed on the ballot under the NFL Sportsmanship Award category. From the eight finalists, each team’s players will submit their consensus vote for the winner. As in Pro Bowl voting, a team cannot vote for its own player.
Frank Gore of the Indianapolis Colts (2016), Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders (2015) and Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals (2014) have received the award in previous years.
The winner will be announced during the NFL Honors show, which airs nationally on Saturday, Feb. 3 on NBC, the night before Super Bowl LII. He will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice and a trophy that represents the important role that sportsmanship plays in the game and how NFL players that demonstrate integrity and honor on the field serve as role models for players at all levels.
|2017 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award Finalists|
|Player||NFL Team||NFL Exp.||Times Nominated||Appearances as Finalist|
|Vernon Davis, TE||Redskins||12||1||1|
|Antonio Gates, TE||Chargers||15||2||1|
|Luke Kuechly, LB||Panthers||6||2||2|
|Josh McCown, QB||Jets||15||2||1|
|Haloti Ngata, DT||Lions||12||1||1|
|Alex Smith, QB||Chiefs||13||2||2|
|Joe Staley, T||49ers||11||3||3|
|Joe Thomas, T||Browns||11||2||1|