Running back Benny Cunningham has been selected as the Bears nominee for the fourth annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes NFL players who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field. Each NFL team nominated one player for the honor.
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.
Cunningham signed with the Bears in March after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Rams. In seven games this year, he has rushed for 30 yards on eight carries, caught nine passes for 98 yards and one touchdown and averaged 19.8 yards on six kickoff returns.
Bears running back Benny Cunningham against the Vikings.
The winner of the Sportsmanship Award is determined by a vote of current NFL players. A panel of former players from the NFL Legends Community will select eight finalists (four in the AFC and four in the NFC) from the 32 nominees. The panel is comprised of Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler.
The eight finalists will be listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the NFL Sportsmanship Award category when players vote on Friday, Dec. 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 award is presented each year 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.
Past recipients of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award were Frank Gore of the Indianapolis Colts (2016), Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders (2015) and Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals (2014).
The winner selected by the vote of the players will be announced during the nationally televised NFL Honors show on Saturday, Feb. 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.