Jets quarterback Josh McCown is one of eight finalists for the 2017 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, the NFL announced today. The finalists, featuring four players from each conference, are McCown, tight end Antonio Gates*(Los Angeles Chargers), quarterback Alex Smith (Kansas City) and tackle Joe Thomas (Cleveland) in the AFC, and tight end Vernon Davis (Washington), linebacker Luke Kuechly *(Carolina), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (Detroit) and tackle Joe Staley (San Francisco) in the NFC.
Staley (2015 and 2016), Smith (2014) and Kuechly (2015) have been named finalists in the past. Gates (2014), McCown (2015) and Thomas (2016) have been nominated by their teams in previous seasons but are first-time finalists. Davis and Ngata were each nominated for the first time this season.
Each NFL 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 of former players from the NFL Legends Community selected the eight finalists from the 32 nominees. The panel is comprised of Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler.
The winner of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award is determined by a vote of current NFL players. The eight finalists will be listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the NFL Sportsmanship Award category when players vote on Friday, December 15. From the eight finalists, each team's players will submit a consensus vote of their choice for the winner. As in Pro Bowl voting, a team cannot vote for its own player.
The winner selected by the vote of the players will be announced during the nationally televised NFL Honors show on Saturday, February 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. He will also receive 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.