- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - The NFL has created a sportsmanship award to be voted on by league players.

Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the award Tuesday, with each team nominating one of its players during the season. A panel of former players will select eight finalists from the 32 nominees.

Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin will be on the panel, along with Warrick Dunn, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler.

Among the nominees are Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, Cleveland’s Joe Haden, Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, Houston’s J.J. Watt and Oakland’s Charles Woodson.

The eight finalists will be listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the NFL Sportsmanship Award when the players vote on Dec. 19. From the eight finalists, each team’s players will submit a consensus vote of its choice for the winner. As in Pro Bowl voting, a team cannot vote for its own player.

“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,” said Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations. “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 during the nationally televised “NFL Honors” show on Jan. 31, the night before the Super Bowl. The Associated Press NFL individual awards are announced during that show.

A $25,000 donation NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice will be presented to the winner.

The nominees:

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; LB Chad Greenway, Minnesota; WR/ST 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.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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