Hall of Fame RB Curtis Martin, considered by many to be one of the classiest players in NFL history, will be on the committee that determines the NFL Sportsman of the Year.
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The NFL has announced that a new annual Sportsmanship Award, to be determined by a player vote, will be given out on the day before the Super Bowl.
The announcement comes at a time when the league is eager to promote its high-character players while ugly cases of off-field misconduct have cast the NFL in a negative light. The Sportsmanship Award will join the league’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which recognizes good works off the field, in putting a spotlight on those players who conduct themselves the right way.
Other leagues including the NBA and the NHL already have awards for sportsmanship, but this will be the first season in which the NFL gives such an award.
Each team will nominate one player from its own team for the Sportsmanship Award. The league has appointed a panel of former players — Hall of Fame RB Curtis Martin, 6-time Pro Bowl LB and Hall of Fame nominee Karl Mecklenburg, 3-time Pro Bowl Warrick Dunn, and 7-year DB Leonard Wheeler — to take the list of 32 nominees and come up with a list of eight finalists. Then the active players will vote among the eight finalists at the same time that they vote on the Pro Bowl rosters.
The recipient of the Sportsmanship Award will get a $25,000 donation to the charity of his choice from the NFL Foundation.