The Pittsburgh Steelers announced on Tuesday that outside linebacker Alex Highsmith was nominated by the team for the eighth annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. Each NFL club recommends one player who exhibits on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition. The award was created in 2014 to honor Art Rooney Sr., the founder of the Steelers and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s really an honor,” Highsmith said of the nomination. “I think it’s important. To be able to play the game I love for a living is amazing. To be able to go out there and do what I love, it’s important to play the right way. It shows a lot to those who are watching, those younger than us, kids who aspire to be in the NFL. It shows them to play the right way.”
The Steelers didn’t have a whole lot of success prior to the Chuck Noll era, but Rooney always displayed class and sportsmanship. For that reason, the NFL named the sportsmanship award after him. It means a lot to Highsmith that the award is named after the architect of the organization.
“It’s awesome,” Highsmith said. “I have known about him. I think he set a great foundation for this team. It’s such a great organization, the best in the NFL. It’s cool that the award is named after him. It is an honor.”
Eight finalists, four in each conference, will be selected by members of the NFL Legends Community for the award. The committee includes Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Larry Fitzgerald and Leonard Wheeler. Current players will have the final say when the eight appear on their Pro Bowl Games ballot under NFL Sportsmanship Award.
Highsmith is a having a breakout season this year with nine sacks in 10 games. If he stays on track, Highsmith could be nominated for his first Pro Bowl.
Ben Roethlisberger was the Steelers’ nominee for the award in 2021. The winner of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award will be announced during the NFL Honors ceremony, and a $25,000 donation will be made to the charity of their choice. While the award is named after “The Chief,” it has yet to be won by a Steelers player since its creation in 2014.