The award recognizes players 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, a Pro Football Hall of Fame member.
The winner will be announced on Feb. 4, the night before the Super Bowl, at the NFL Honors show in which The Associated Press hands out its individual player awards, including league MVP.
Each NFL team nominated one of its players for the award. A panel of former players comprised of Hall of Famer Curtis Martin, Warrick Dunn, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler whittled the nominees down to eight.
From the eight finalists, each team’s players submit a consensus vote of their choice, but cannot vote for a teammate.
Two of the players, Colts running back Gore and Panthers tight end Olsen, went to the University of Miami. Gore is in his 12th pro season and Olsen his 10th.
Packers defensive end Peppers has had the longest stint in the NFL, in his 15th pro season. Denver DE Ware is in his 12th year, as is Eagles running back Sproles.
Ravens guard Yanda and 49ers tackle Staley each is in his 10th pro season, while Texans linebacker Cushing is in his eighth.
Among them is a total of 24 All-Pro selections.
Last year’s winner was Charles Woodson, who has since retired. The first Rooney Award winner was Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
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