ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos Pro Bowl pass-rushing star DeMarcus Ware has won many accolades in his career, but he is a finalist for a new one this year.
The NFL Sportsmanship Award will be given Saturday night, and Ware is one of eight finalists.
Fittingly, the award, new this year, is named for Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Rooney.
Mr. Rooney, "The Chief," was a sportsman back in the day when that meant a truly diversified interest in sports, especially horse racing.
It is not true that he bought the Steelers after a big day at the track. Mr. Rooney bought the Steelers for $2,500 in 1933, and had his legendary "day at the track" — actually two days, but the stuff of legend – three years later, winning what was estimated at over $350,000 in two days in 1936.
I was honored to meet him on several occasions in my early Bronco years, and he was a gentleman and sportsman of the highest order.
Besides his investments in the Steelers and numerous racing interests, Mr. Rooney was a part owner of the Homestead Grays, one if the premier African-American baseball teams.
Ware is joined by fellow finalists Thomas Davis (Carolina), Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona), Chad Greenway (Minnesota), Calvin Johnson (Detroit), Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh), Matthew Slater (New England) and Alex Smith (Kansas City).
I am writing this piece because this is just another award to get lost in the craze of Super Bowl week, but it is not just another award.
It is about sportsmanship, which ought to be at the center of everything that every sport stands for.
It is named for one of the greatest gentlemen in the history of the game, an owner of dignity and honor beloved by all.
It recognizes eight of the great citizens in the NFL, players who bring honor to their teams and the games off the field as well, doing numerous charity works in their communities.
From Mr. Rooney through the generations that bring us to these nominees, a central point of sportsmanship is made that should be a focus for us all.
Remember, you don't have to take part in a sport to be a good sport.