The NFL announced eight finalists for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award and after being nominated for the last four seasons but never making it beyond the initial nomination, Buccaneers' inside linebacker Lavonte David is finally one of those eight. 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.
If that doesn't describe David, I don't know what does.
The finalists feature four players from each conference. Among the NFC, it's David, Saints defensive end Cam Jordan, 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk and Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. The AFC finalists are Bills quarterback Josh Allen, Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks, Dolphins defensive back Jason McCourty and Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater.
The longest-tenured Buccaneer on the roster, David is the epitome of 'one of the good ones.' He's been a defensive captain, voted on by his teammates, since 2014 and has earned numerous accolades on the field. He and Ray Lewis are the only two players in NFL history to record 1,000 tackles, 20.0 sacks and 10 interceptions through their first eight seasons. He is one of only two players in the NFL currently with all those stats. David was selected to NFL.com's 2010s All-Decade Team and ranked No. 43 on the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2021 list.
All that an only one Pro Bowl and One All-Pro to speak of (not even in the same season).
He is an exemplary person on top of his on-field play. David has his own 'Lavonte's Legends' Foundation and has been a national ambassador for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. He leads his teammates by example and I challenge you to find a more well-liked guy anywhere.
Here's to hoping the finalist title turns into getting the recognition David deserves.
-The Buccaneers activated defensive tackle Rakeem Nuñez-Roches off the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. They currently have four players and head coach Bruce Arians on the list now.
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