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Brian Cushing Nominated For 2016 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award

The Texans’ linebacker is one of 32 players nominated for this prestigious award.

NFL: Houston Texans at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Cushing started the 2016 NFL campaign with great hope and promise. That was seemingly dashed against the rocks on the first drive of the first game when he suffered what many feared to be a season-ending knee injury.

If anyone knows how to come back from a knee injury, it’s Cushing, who has had more than his fair share and still lived on to fight another day.

At the moment speculation began that Cushing could be lost for the year, the furthest thing from anyone’s mind was the possibility he might win any end-of-season awards this year.

Despite all that, Brian Cushing is the Houston Texans’ nominee for the third annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. While Cushing certainly has a mean streak when he’s on the field, anyone who watched “Hard Knocks” knows that his on-field persona is built on a foundation of hard work, integrity and love of the game.

Here’s the NFL’s official announcement on the award:

The 32 player nominees for the third annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award have been finalized, the NFL announced today. Each NFL team nominated one of its players for the award, which recognizes players around the league who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field.

The award was created in 2014 in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Rooney, Sr.

The winner of the NFL Sportsmanship Award is determined by a vote of current NFL players. A panel of former players from the NFL Legends Community will select eight finalists (four in the AFC and four in the NFC) from the 32 nominees. The panel is comprised of Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler.

The eight finalists will be listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the NFL Sportsmanship Award category when players vote on Friday, December 16. From the eight finalists, each team’s players will submit a consensus vote of their choice for the winner. As in Pro Bowl voting, a team cannot vote for its own player.

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.

Last year, the players selected Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders as the recipient of the 2015 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals was the inaugural winner of the award in 2014.

The winner selected by the vote of the players will be announced during the nationally televised NFL Honors show on Saturday, February 4 on FOX, the night before Super Bowl LI. He will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice. He will also receive a trophy that represents the important role that sportsmanship plays in the game and how NFL players that demonstrate integrity and honor on the field serve as role models for players at all levels.

-- THE WINNER WILL BE REVEALED AT NFL HONORS BEFORE SUPER BOWL LI --​

Thinking of a moment you saw Cush exhibit the traits that make him worthy of this award? Tell us about it in the comments below.