Houston Texans WR Brandin Cooks has been named a finalist for the 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, the NFL announced today. 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.
The finalists, featuring four players from each conference, are Cooks, QB Josh Allen (Buffalo), DB Jason McCourty (Miami) and WR Matthew Slater (New England) in the AFC, and LB Lavonte David (Tampa Bay), DE Cameron Jordan (New Orleans), FB Kyle Juszczyk (San Francisco) and WR Adam Thielen (Minnesota) in the NFC.
Over his eight-year career, Cooks has exemplified sportsmanship, integrity and respect for both his opponents and the game through his consistent effort and leadership on the field. Since being drafted in the first round (20th overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft, Cooks has appeared in 117 contests with 105 starts, compiling 563 reception for 7,825 yards and 45 touchdowns, while also adding 48 rush attempts for 302 yards and an additional two scores. Cooks has also started in all six postseason appearances, including back-to-back Super Bowl contests (LII, LIII).
Cooks is one of just four players in NFL history to record at least three seasons of 1,000-plus receiving yards and seven touchdowns before turning 25, and also became the first player in NFL annals to notch three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons on three different teams. Last season, he joined Brandon Marshall as the only players in NFL history to tally 1,000-yard seasons with four different teams, while sitting just 55 yards away in 2021 from a second consecutive 1,000-yard campaign with the Texans and sixth overall.
Cooks' leadership has been recognized numerous times by Texans Head Coach David Culley, saying "He's a guy that our players trust, and not only just because of the kind of player he is, but the kind of person he is." Texans Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith has also been on record noting, "He's an outstanding competitor, outstanding player. You want a veteran player to show the young players how to be a pro. He's a receiver that can do it all. Seen a lot of good ones and I knew a lot about him before I got here and to see him every day, I know exactly what he can do and that's what he's done every game."
A panel of former players from the NFL Legends Community selected the eight finalists from the 32 NFL club nominees. The panel is comprised of Warrick Dunn, Larry Fitzgerald, Curtis Martin and Leonard Wheeler. The eight finalists were listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the NFL Sportsmanship Award category.
"I've had the honor of competing with many of the nominees on the list," said Fitzgerald. "More importantly, I've had the blessing of knowing and building relationships with several of them off the field. The legacy of Mr. Rooney lives on through these men. They represent teamwork, competitiveness, hard work, optimism, and integrity. Congratulations to each of the nominees for this year's Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award."
The award was created in 2014 in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Rooney Sr. The winner of the NFL Sportsmanship Award is determined by a vote of current NFL players. From the eight finalists, each team's players submitted a consensus vote of their choice for the winner. As in Pro Bowl voting, a team cannot vote for its own player.
|QB Josh Allen||Buffalo Bills||AFC|
|WR Brandin Cooks||Houston Texans||AFC|
|LB Lavonte David||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||AFC|
|DB Jason McCourty||Miami Dolphins||AFC|
|DE Cameron Jordan||New Orleans Saints||NFC|
|FB Kyle Juszczyk||San Fransisco 49ers||NFC|
|WR Matthew Slater||New England Patriots||NFC|
|WR Adam Thielen||Minnesota Vikings||NFC|