|CAROLINA PANTHERS LINEBACKER LUKE KUECHLY
NAMED WINNER OF 2017 ART ROONEY SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD
LUKE KUECHLY of the Carolina Panthers is the winner of the 2017 ART ROONEY SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD, as announced today at NFL Honors. The award recognizes the NFL player who best demonstrates the qualities of outstanding sportsmanship on the playing field, including fair play, respect for opponents and integrity in competition.
The announcement of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award was made at NFL HONORS, a two-hour primetime awards special recognizing the NFL’s best players, performances and plays from the 2017 season that will air nationally at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC. The award was founded in 2014 in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer ART ROONEY, SR.
Kuechly will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice.
A six-year NFL veteran, Kuechly led Carolina with 125 tackles in 2017 and is the only player in franchise history with at least 100 tackles in each of his first six seasons as a Panther. Since entering the league in 2012, Kuechly leads all NFL linebackers with 15 interceptions and is the only player in the league with at least 15 interceptions (15) and 10 sacks (10.5) over that span. A five-time AP All-Pro selection, five-time Pro Bowler and the 2013 AP Defensive Player of the Year, he was a first-round draft choice by the Panthers in 2012.
The winner of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award is determined by a vote of current NFL players. Past recipients of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award are FRANK GORE of the Indianapolis Colts (2016), CHARLES WOODSON of the Oakland Raiders (2015) and LARRY FITZGERALD of the Arizona Cardinals (2014).
Each NFL team nominated one of its players for the award, which recognizes players who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field. A panel of former players from the NFL Legends Community selected eight finalists (four in the AFC; four in the NFC) from the 32 nominees. The panel of Legends Coordinators was comprised of WARRICK DUNN, CURTIS MARTIN, KARL MECKLENBURG and LEONARD WHEELER.
The eight finalists were listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. From the eight finalists, each team’s players submitted a consensus vote of its choice for the winner. As in Pro Bowl voting, a team could not vote for its own player.
The finalists, featuring four players from each conference, were tight end ANTONIO GATES (Los Angeles Chargers), quarterback JOSH MCCOWN (New York Jets), quarterback ALEX SMITH (Kansas City) and tackle JOETHOMAS (Cleveland) in the AFC, and tight end VERNON DAVIS (Washington), Kuechly, defensive tackle HALOTI NGATA (Detroit) and tackle JOE STALEY (San Francisco) in the NFC.