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Smith chosen as Bears' nominee for Rooney Award


Linebacker Roquan Smith has been selected as the Bears' nominee for the eighth 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.

Smith is a respected team leader who was selected by the Bears with the eighth pick in the first round of the 2018 draft out of Georgia. This season, he became the first Bears player to record at least 100 tackles in each of his first four seasons since Lance Briggs in 2003-06. Last year, Smith was voted second-team All-Pro after finishing second in the NFL with 98 tackles and 18 tackles-for-loss.

A panel of former players comprised of Warrick Dunn, Larry Fitzgerald, Curtis Martin and Leonard Wheeler will select eight finalists (four in the NFC and four in the AFC) from the 32 nominees for the honor. The eight finalists will then be listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the NFL Sportsmanship Award category when players vote later this month. 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.

The winner will be announced as part of NFL Honors Feb. 10, the Thursday before the Super Bowl. He will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice.

Past recipients of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award include Fitzgerald (2014), Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson (2015), Colts running back Frank Gore (2016), Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (2017), Saints quarterback Drew Brees (2018), Washington running back Adrian Peterson (2019) and Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (2020).