The eight finalists for the second annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award have been determined, the NFL announced today. The finalists, featuring four players from each conference, are running back JUSTIN FORSETT (Baltimore), running back MATT FORTÉ(Chicago), linebacker LUKE KUECHLY(Carolina), quarterback MATT HASSELBECK(Indianapolis), wide receiver CALVIN JOHNSON(Detroit), cornerback JASON MC COURTY(Tennessee), tackle JOE STALEY(San Francisco) and safety CHARLES WOODSON(Oakland).
Each NFL team nominated one of its players for the award, which recognizes players who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field. The award was was created last season in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer ART ROONEY, SR. It is presented annually to an NFL player who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.
A panel of former players from the NFL Legends Community selected from the 32 nominees eight finalists. 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 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award when players vote on December 18. From the eight finalists, each team's players will submit a consensus vote of its choice for the winner. As in Pro Bowl voting, a team cannot vote for its own player.
In 2014, the players chose LARRY FITZGERALD of the Arizona Cardinals as the inaugural winner of the Art Rooney Award.
The winner selected by the vote of the players will be announced during the nationally televised "5th Annual NFL Honors" show on Saturday, February 6 on CBS, the night before Super Bowl 50. 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 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.
2015 ART ROONEY SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD FINALISTS
San Francisco 49ers
- RB Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens–* *An eight-year NFL veteran, Forsett earned Pro Bowl honors in 2014 after setting career highs with 1,266 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. In 2014, he was the NFL's only player to rush for at least 1,200 yards and average 5.0 yards per carry. Forsett was originally selected by the Seahawks in the seventh round (233rd overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft.
- RB Matt Forté, Chicago Bears– Forté, an eight-year veteran running back for Chicago, was a second-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. Forté is a two-time Pro Bowler and ranks second in Bears history with 8,425 rushing yards and 475 receptions. Forté also leads the NFL with 12,427 scrimmage yards since entering the league in 2008.
- LB Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers– Kuechly was selected by the Panthers with the ninth overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. A four-year linebacker, Kuechly became just the second player to earn Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year (2012) and Defensive Player of the Year (2013) honors in consecutive seasons. Kuechly is the fourth-leading tackler in Panthers history and his 559 tackles are the most in the NFL since entering the league in 2012.
- QB Matt Hasselbeck, Indianapolis Colts– A 17-year veteran quarterback, Hasselbeck joined the Indianapolis Colts in 2013 and was originally a sixth-round selection in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. In 2015, he became the third quarterback in NFL history to win four consecutive starts after turning 40 years old. Hasselbeck previously spent time with Tennessee (2011-12), Seattle (2001-10) and Green Bay (1999-2000). Hasselbeck led the Seahawks to an appearance in Super Bowl XL during the 2005 season.
- WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions– Johnson ranks first in Lions history with 11,386 receiving yards and 81 touchdowns. Johnson has the most receiving yards (7,195) and the third-most catches (444) in the league since 2011. Johnson set the NFL's all-time single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards during the 2012 season.* *
- CB Jason McCourty, Tennessee Titans– Originally a sixth-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, the standout cornerback was named a team captain during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Since entering the league in 2009, McCourty has led the Titans in passes defensed (61) and is tied for second on the team with 11 interceptions and 426 solo tackles.* *
- T Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers – Staley is a nine-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler who was selected by the 49ers in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Since entering the league in 2007, Staley has started in 127 games, becoming the 20th offensive lineman in 49ers history to play in at least 100 games.
- S Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders– Woodson, an 18-year veteran, was the fourth overall selection of the Oakland Raiders in the 1998 NFL Draft. Woodson spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Raiders before joining the Packers for seven seasons (2006-12) and later rejoining Oakland in 2013. In 18 seasons, Woodson has 65 interceptions, tied for the fifth-most all time.