The NFL has had a tough year when it comes to publicity and the image of the league. So likely in part to combat that, the NFL has created a new award that they will hand out annually at the NFL Honors, the Sportsmanship Award. Each of the 32 NFL teams nominates one player for the award.
For the Colts, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been nominated by his teammates. Per the NFL, the award is "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."
Hilton was recently named the NFLPA's Community MVP last week for his off-field work, which includes hosting a bowling tournament recently to raise money to help kids go to college, the "One Team for the Cure" campaign, a charity event for Fathers and Families, DREAM Alive, and this Saturday's Bleed Blue Blood Drive. Hilton's off-the-field sportsmanship has been recognized, and now he's being recognized for his on-the-field sportsmanship by being voted the Colts' nominee for the inaugural NFL Sportsmanship Award. In addition to being a good guy, team player, and showing great sportsmanship, Hilton has also had a fantastic season production-wise, as he's on pace to catch 96 passes for 1,594 yards (which would rank as the third-highest single-season total in Colts' history) and 9 touchdowns.
As far as the process goes for narrowing down the 32 nominees, after each team nominates votes a player as their nominee, then the nominees will be narrowed down to eight finalists (four from the AFC, four from the NFC) by a committee (made up of Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Karl Mecklenburg, and Leonard Wheeler). The eight finalists will be voted on by each team (submitting a consensus vote of it's players - and a team cannot vote for a player from their own team) and the winner will be announced at the NFL Honors ceremony on Super Bowl weekend - which this year will be Saturday, January 31, 2014. The winning player will receive a $25,000 donation to the charity of his choice, along with a trophy for demonstrating good sportsmanship. You can read the full list of all 32 nominees here.
Regardless of if he wins or if he's even named one of the finalists for this award, it's a nice distinction for T.Y. Hilton, considering it's voted on by his teammates. He's doing things the right way both on and off the field, and that's a good thing for the emerging superstar wide receiver that figures to be in Indianapolis with quarterback Andrew Luck for many years to come.