Adrian Peterson becomes first Redskins player to win Art Rooney Sportsmanship award

Washington Redskins’ Adrian Peterson speaks after winning the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award at the NFL Honors football award show Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

MIAMI – Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson is the sixth recipient of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship award, the league announced at NFL Honors on Saturday.

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).

Peterson is the first Redskins player to win the award.

“It means a lot,” Peterson said on the red carpet ahead of the award show. “When it came out, I was just smiling ear to ear because it goes to show the person that you are — and it comes naturally — is seen, is noticed and recognized by your peers. So to be up for the award is a blessing. There’s been great winners before, and to be able to be added to that group, it’ll be a dream come true.”

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.

According to coaches and teammates, 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, while his career accomplishments demand even more respect.

Washington Redskins Adrian Peterson poses with the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award at the NFL Honors football award show Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“He’s just an example on and off the field.” Dwayne Haskins said on the red carpet before the award show on Saturday. “He’s what it’s supposed to look like, how to work, somebody you look up to, especially with the Washington Redskins in that locker room. He has respect all over the NFL and I think he deserves it.”

Peterson was especially valuable for the Redskins’ younger running backs. When he was not carrying the Redskins’ rushing load — he led the team in carries (211) and rushing yards (898) — he mentored 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.

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:

 
Year Player
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 were 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 winner was determined by a vote of current NFL players, another nod to just how beloved and respected Peterson is.

“To me, it’s all about inspiring others, uplifting others, that’s the main objective when it comes to life in general,” Peterson said. “And having this platform, that’s how I want it to be used.”

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.