Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson is one of eight finalists for the sixth-annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes players around the NFL who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field.
In addition to his Hall of Fame statistics -- Peterson currently ranks sixth in NFL history in rushing yards and fifth in touchdowns -- the 34-year-old bruiser has been a role model since signing with Washington in August of 2018.
Interim head coach Bill Callahan has gushed about Peterson throughout this season. Peterson is well-liked and well-rounded, passionate about football and influential on the field and in the locker room. His work ethic is unparalleled and speaks for itself, Callahan added, while his career accomplishments demand even more respect.
"There's nothing you can't ask him that he wouldn't do," Callahan said about Peterson. "He's first in line in every drill, he's first forward in the meeting room, he sits right in front of the room when the plays are being installed, and it's like he's a rookie on Day 1 just looking at the first play going in for the install of the week. There are so many things that impress me about Adrian."
Peterson has been especially valuable for the Redskins' younger running backs. When he's not carrying the Redskins' rushing load -- he leads the team in carries (147) and rushing yards (642) -- he's mentoring fellow rusher Derrius Guice, helping him through the early part of his NFL career.
After missing all of his rookie campaign with a torn ACL, Guice tore his meniscus in the regular season opener and missed the next eight games. Throughout the recovery process, Guice has been able to lean on Peterson, who has suffered both injuries throughout his 13-year career.
Guice returned to action Week 11 against the New York Jets and has paired nicely with Peterson in the games since. Their best performance together came in a 29-21 win over the Panthers on Dec. 1, when they combined for 228 yards and three touchdowns on just 23 carries.
"I was telling [Peterson] earlier that they finally got to see the two-headed monster," Guice told reporters after the victory. "These are the days I have been waiting on since they called him when I tore my ACL."
Peterson was one of 32 players nominated (one from each team) for the sportsmanship award, which was created in 2014 in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Rooney Sr.
Here is a list of all of the Redskins' nominees since the award's inception:
|2014||S Ryan Clark|
|2015||RB Alfred Morris|
|2016||QB Kirk Cousins|
|2017||TE Vernon Davis|
|2018||TE Vernon Davis|
|2019||RB Adrian Peterson|
"[Peterson] is a great person, he's a great football player and he exemplifies what it takes to be that pivotal role model out in the community as well as on the team," Davis said. "He's showed it year in and year out and he's been recognized for it, so I think it's a wonderful achievement for him."
A panel of former players from the NFL Legends Community selected the eight finalists (four in the AFC and four in the NFC). Joining Peterson are Jaguars DL Calais Campbell, Chargers LB Thomas Davis, Sr., Colts WR T.Y. Hilton, Patriots WR Matthew Slater, Lions QB Matthew Stafford, 49ers T Joe Staley and Rams S Eric Weddle.
The finalists will be listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the Sportsmanship Award category, and a winner will be determined by a vote of current NFL players, which will occur Friday, Dec. 13.
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 winners include wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (2014), cornerback Charles Woodson (2015), running back Frank Gore (2016), linebacker Luke Kuechly (2017) and quarterback Drew Brees (2018).