Just what kind of a good sport is offensive lineman Joe Staley?
The day after the 49ers announced Staley was a finalist for the NFL’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, to be announced Feb. 3, Staley met with reporters in the locker room to discuss the honor of the nomination and his good sportsmanship.
Reporters were looking for a serious story, a humorous anecdote, any example they could use in their articles of Staley being a good sport and a swell guy.
“Didn’t you try to break up a fight a few years ago when you guys were in Tennessee playing the Titans?” a reporter asked.
“No, I started it,” Staley said with a sly grin. “Yeah, what a good sport. Great sport. Just making sure everybody’s energy levels were up during the game. Felt like there was a lull. Fans weren’t getting a show. So yeah, started a fight. Forgot about that. Bernard Pollard. That was when Jim Harbaugh jumped in the middle of it.”
That was 2013. Staley was 29. Still developing his sportsmanship.
In 2014, the NFL created the Art Rooney Award, which annually honors the “player who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.” The award was named for the late founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a man who spent much of his youth as a brawling amateur boxer and later purchased his football franchise with winnings from a racetrack.
Staley has been one of eight finalists for this award each of the past three seasons.
What would it mean to him to win the award?
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And Merry Christmas, everyone.