Greenway up for Sportsmanship Award

Linebacker Chad Greenway is the Vikings’ representative for a new sportsmanship award the NFL is handing out before the Super Bowl.

As part of the NFL Honors show that hands out awards to NFL players for achievement during the season, there will be a new category this year, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tuesday.

At the awards ceremony in January, the new category will be the NFL Sportsmanship Award. Each of the NFL’s 32 teams will nominate somebody that exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship. For the Vikings, that player is veteran linebacker Chad Greenway.

Greenway has made a name for himself for going above and beyond as a role model on the Vikings. He and his wife have a foundation that donates time and money to children’s charities and, in 2012, he won the Korey Stringer Good Guy Award, which is given out locally and honors a player who has been accessible to the local media during the season.

On the field, Greenway has been a model of consistency, too. Since 2007, when Greenway first got on the field after overcoming a preseason knee injury in his rookie year, he has the most tackles in the NFL with 976, according to league statistics.

The panel that will select the winner of the sportsmanship award includes Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin, along with former players Warrick Dunn, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler. The list of 32 players will be whittled down to eight at a vote taken by the panel Dec. 19. That list of eight players will be sent to each team and one vote will be cast on behalf of each club among the finalist with team’s not able to vote for their own player if he is one of the eight finalists.

The full list of nominees is as follows:

WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona; RB Steven Jackson, Atlanta; WR Torrey Smith, Baltimore; WR Chris Hogan, Buffalo; CB Terence Newman, Cincinnati; LB Thomas Davis, Carolina; RB Matt Forte, Chicago; CB Joe Haden, Cleveland; TE Jason Witten, Dallas; DE DeMarcus Ware, Denver; WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit; WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay; DE J.J. Watt, Houston; WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis; DT Roy Miller III, Jacksonville; QB Alex Smith, Kansas City; DE Cameron Wake, Miami; Greenway; WR Matthew Slater, New England; WR Marques Colston, New Orleans; LB Jameel McClain, New York Giants; T D'Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets; S Charles Woodson, Oakland; LB Connor Barwin, Philadelphia; S Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh; TE Antonio Gates, San Diego; LB Patrick Willis, San Francisco; LB K.J. Wright, Seattle; DE Robert Quinn, St. Louis; DT Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay; S George Wilson, Tennessee; S Ryan Clark, Washington.

In a statement, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent pointed out that the award not only recognizes on-field achievement, but is centered on the ideals of the character of the players and how they are an example for others to follow in how they approach the game.

“While we enjoy the incredible performance of NFL players on the field, we must never forget a core value of football that transcends all levels of play and exemplifies the complete athlete: sportsmanship,” Vincent said. “This award will recognize those who never hesitate to show that excellence in football is not achieved without respect for the game, for their opponents, for the officials and for the fans.”

The winner will be announced at the Jan. 31 NFL Honors program, which airs Jan. 31, the night before the Super Bowl. It is at this awards show that the Associated Press individual awards like Most Valuable Player, Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year are awarded.

As part of the sportsmanship award, a $25,000 donation to a charity of the winner’s choice will be made by the NFL Foundation.

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