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Browns OL Joel Bitonio nominated for 2018 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award


Browns offensive guard Joel Bitonio has been tabbed as the team's nominee for the 2018 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.

Bitonio, one of the team's longest tenured veterans, has emerged as a selfless leader on one of the league's youngest rosters. During training camp, he spent weeks working out of position at left tackle because it was deemed best for the team. He didn't bat an eye when he was slotted back at his traditional spot at left guard.

Bitonio, a Pro Bowl alternate in 2017, was named one of the team's five permanent captains before the season.

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.

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 14.

The winner of the NFL Sportsmanship Award is determined by a vote of current NFL players. 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.

Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly won the award last year.