Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald accepts his Art Rooney Sportsmanship award at the NFL Honors show Saturday night.
There's a reason Cardinals fans badly want Larry Fitzgerald back with the team next year.
Not only has the veteran wideout put up eye-popping numbers in his career with the franchise, he's also the type of player who is easy to root for. Fitzgerald added to his long list of accolades on Saturday night, winning the inaugural Art Rooney
Award at the fourth annual NFL Honors, which recognizes outstanding sportsmanship on the football field.
Fitzgerald said while doesn't consciously think about being a good example, he is glad to be recognized as such.
"It's just who I am," Fitzgerald said. "It's the way my parents raised me. I can always remember back to my first year of Pop Warner football. My coach, Don, he used to always preach sportsmanship to us, no matter if we win, we lose, we draw, you always have to respect your opponent."
One player from each team was nominated for the award and the list was pared down to eight finalists, who were voted on by current NFL players. Fitzgerald said it meant a lot to him getting chosen by a panel of his peers.
"It's really humbling," Fitzgerald said. "It's not a popularity contest. It's guys' authentic feelings and it means a lot to me to be recognized."
The other finalists were Panthers linebacker Charles Davis, Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
As for Fitzgerald's chances of staying with the Cardinals next season – his cap number of $23.6 million must be re-worked – he was noncommittal on the subject.
"I have no idea what's going to happen," Fitzgerald said. "That's still to come. I love Arizona, I love playing for the Cardinals, and I love working for the Bidwill family."
KURT WARNER MISSES HALL OF FAME CUT
Kurt Warner's NFL career started slowly and ended up just fine. His potential induction into the Hall of Fame must also wait at least a year.
The former Cardinals star quarterback was not among the inductees into the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. He made the cut down to the final ten players, but was not among the five selected. It was his first year of eligibility.
The five who made it in Warner's category were Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, Raiders wideout Tim Brown, Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley, Chargers linebacker Junior Seau and Chiefs guard Will Shields. Former Colts, Bills and Panthers general manager Bill Polian was selected in the contributor category, as was long-time NFL executive Ron Wolf. Former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff made it as the seniors committee's nominee.
Warner spoke of possibly missing the cut earlier in the week at Super Bowl media day, hoping that each player who fell short didn't take it personally.
"My only hope is that, when it comes to Saturday and they call you or knock on your door, whatever, I just don't want it to be any kind of a disappointment for anybody," Warner said then. "We all are honored to be in this class and be in the top 15, and I'm worried that if you don't get that knock on your door, you walk out (disappointed). Hey, I'm one of the 265 best players to ever play this game, so to speak, and I'm pretty cool with that."
BOWLES NAMED AP ASSISTANT OF THE YEAR
Bruce Arians won the AP Coach of the Year honor on Saturday night, but he wasn't the only coach from the Cardinals to take home an award.
Former Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles earned the nod for AP Assistant of the Year. He made his mark with halftime adjustments and exotic blitz schemes, and it launched him to the Jets head coaching position earlier this month.
The Cardinals allowed 18.7 points per game on Bowles' watch, which was the fifth-best mark in the NFL, despite several injuries to key players and the season-long suspension of star linebacker Daryl Washingon.
"I wouldn't be head Coach of the Year if it wasn't for him and the job he did," Arians said. "I'm so happy we started that award, and he got it for the first time. Now he's going to do a great job for the Jets."
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