NY Jets: Folorunso Fatukasi nominated for Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

NY Jets’ defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi has been nominated for a special award.

The NY Jets have been pleasantly surprised with the play of Folorunso Fatukasi over the last two years. The former sixth-round pick has developed into one of the NFL’s best run defenders and is quite literally one of the best nose tackles in the league.

But for as large of an impact as Fatukasi as made with his play, he’s made just as large of an impact with his gamesmanship.

Fatukasi was recently named the Jets’ nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award which is given annually to the player who “exemplifies outstanding sportsmanship on the field.”

The award was first introduced in 2014 in honor of the late former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and NFL legend, Art Rooney Sr.

The list currently consists of 32 nominees with one representative from each team. Other nominees include NFL stars such as Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Nick Chubb, Budda Baker, Cameron Heyward, Khalil Mack, and others.

A panel of former players including former Jets’ running back Curtis Martin will be asked to select eight finalists from the initial 32 nominees (four from each conference). Those eight finalists will then be listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the NFL Sportsmanship Award category.

Folorunso Fatukasi isn’t the only former nominee on the NY Jets roster

Of the six previous winners, the Jets actually have one currently on their roster, although he didn’t win it as a member of the team. Frank Gore was given the award back in 2016 when he was playing for the Indianapolis Colts.

Other prior winners include Larry Fitzgerald, Drew Brees, and Charles Woodson. Fatukasi is looking to become the first Jets representative to win the award.

Oddly enough, the player who Fatukasi has essentially replaced since his departure, Steve McLendon, has been the Jets’ representative in each of the last two seasons. Prior to that, the Jets had nominated Josh McCown, Brandon Marshall, and David Harris.

After playing in just one game in his rookie season, Fatukasi broke out in 2019 finishing as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 10 overall interior defensive lineman. And in 2020, it’s been more of the same.

The local Far Rockaway native is currently the NFL’s No. 1 run defender at his position, per PFF, and his 85.4 PFF grade is nearly 4.0 points higher than the grade he received last year.

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While he may fly under the radar from time to time, it’s nice to see Fatukasi getting the recognition he deserves — both for his play and sportsmanship.