First-year Bears running back Benny Cunningham is the team’s nominee to take home one of the NFL’s most distinguished honors:
Congrats & well-deserved, Benny! pic.twitter.com/2xb5ACGeAQ
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 14, 2017
Cunningham is in the running for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, an honor which recognizes players for showing outstanding on-field sportsmanship. Along with the award itself, the player is given a $25,000 donation from the NFL to a charity of the player’s choice. The award is named in honor of legendary Pittsburgh Steelers founding owner Art Rooney Sr.
The Bears signed Cunningham to a one-year deal in the offseason and has been primarily used as a kick returner and passing-down running back in Chicago after spending his first four years with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. This is the first time Cunningham has been nominated for the award.
Sam Acho (2014 and 2016) and Matt Forte (2015) were the Bears’ previous nominees for the award. Former Bears tight end Greg Olsen was among the eight finalists for the award in 2016. And as Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic notes, former Bears quarterback Josh McCown (now with the New York Jets) and left tackle Jermon Bushrod (Miami Dolphins) received nominations from their respective teams.
Established in 2014, the award’s previous winners include wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (2014 Arizona Cardinals), defensive back Charles Woodson (2015 Oakland Raiders), and running back Frank Gore (2016 Indianapolis Colts). Landing among those names would put whoever wins the 2017 award among some great company.