LARRY FITZGERALD of the Arizona Cardinals is the winner of the inaugural ART ROONEY AWARD, it was announced today. The award recognizes the NFL player who demonstrates the qualities of outstanding sportsmanship on the playing field, including fair play, respect for opponents and integrity in competition.
The award was founded this year in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer ART ROONEY, SR.
The announcement of the ART ROONEY AWARD PRESENTED BY BOSE was made during the “4th Annual NFL Honors”, a two-hour primetime awards special that will air nationally from 9:00-11:00 p.m. (ET) on NBC tonight.
Fitzgerald will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice.
To commemorate the honor, Fitzgerald was presented on-stage “The Art Rooney Trophy,” which 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 other players at all levels. The award design was inspired by the upward arc of a football in motion and contains a gold line embedded in glass that represents the path of sportsmanship throughout a career. Etched into the award are the words “integrity,” “honor,” “respect,” and “fairness,” the values that define excellent sportsmanship.
Each NFL team nominated one player during the season. A panel of former players from the NFL Legends Community selected from the 32 nominees eight finalists (four in the AFC; four in the NFC). The panel of Legends Coordinators was comprised of WARRICK DUNN, CURTIS MARTIN, KARL MECKLENBURG and LEONARD WHEELER.
The finalists, featuring four players from each conference, were linebacker THOMAS DAVIS (Carolina), wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD (Arizona), linebacker CHAD GREENWAY (Minnesota), wide receiver CALVIN JOHNSON (Detroit), safety TROY POLAMALU (Pittsburgh), wide receiver-special teamer MATTHEW SLATER (New England), quarterback ALEX SMITH (Kansas City) and defensive end DE MARCUS WARE (Denver). Current players voted on the finalists on the 2015 Pro Bowl ballot.