This year’s end-of-season awards to the NFL’s best players will include a new recognition of sportsmanship on the field: the Art Rooney Award. The winner will be announced at the 4th Annual NFL Honors on Saturday, Jan. 31 — the day before Super Bowl XLIX. The awards ceremony will be broadcast on NBC at 8 p.m. EST.
The Art Rooney Award — honoring the legendary founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers — will go to the NFL player who demonstrates on the field the qualities of great sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for opponents, and integrity in competition. The NFL Foundation will make a $25,000 donation on behalf of the player to a charity of his choice.
The winner will also be presented with the Art Rooney Trophy, representing the important role that sportsmanship plays in the game and highlighting how NFL players who demonstrate integrity and honor on the field serve as role models for players at all levels of the game..
Each of the 32 NFL teams nominated a player for the award during the season. Four former players from the NFL Legends Community — Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler — selected eight finalists, four from the AFC and four from the NFC. The winner was selected by the players, who voted for the winner on their 2015 Pro Bowl ballots.
The finalists are:
The award honors Art Rooney Sr., who founded the Steelers in 1933 and became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964. Affectionately known as “The Chief,” Rooney turned the Steelers into four-time Super Bowl champions in the 1970s and played an active role in team operations until his death in 1988.
“I think my grandfather would be a little uncomfortable with the idea of an award being named for him,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “But I think he would appreciate that it is an award recognizing sportsmanship in the game of football, and that it honors a player who displays respect for the game and respect for the other players of the game. My grandfather cared about integrity in the game of football, and the recipient of this award should be proud his peers look at him in such a respectful manner.”