Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has long had a reputation as one of the NFL’s good guys.
Now he has the hardware to go with it.
Kuechly won the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award on Saturday during the NFL Honors program at Northrop Auditorium.
Kuechly, the NFL Defensive Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year his first two seasons, has been nominated for the Sportsmanship Award for several years.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
“There’s a lot of good guys in this league. There’s more good guys than bad guys. And there’s a lot of good that goes on in this league,” Kuechly said.
“I think it’s important to not only recognize one person, but the guys in general that do a lot. I’m just trying to be a guy that goes out there and respects the game, and there’s tons of guys that do that.”
Kuechly praised teammates Thomas Davis and Greg Olsen – both of whom were in the audience – for their mentorship during his acceptance remarks, which he closed with: “Go Panthers.”
Kuechly later mentioned his parents, Tom and Eileen Kuechly, for shaping him.
“My dad and mom always said you’ve always got to treat people how you want to be treated, regardless of where you are, who you’re with or what you’re doing,” Kuechly said. “I think it continues on the field.”
Kuechly said he had teammates who served as role models at every level, from high school in Cincinnati to Boston College (Mike Morrissey) to the NFL (Panthers LBs Jon Beason, Davis and Jordan Senn).
L.A. Rams running back Todd Gurley said he didn’t know Kuechly until meeting him this week at a Nickelodeon “slime showdown.”
“He was just a real good dude. And I’d heard so much about him. Me being a fan of the league and just seeing the things he’s done,” Gurley said.
“I know he has Thomas Davis. T.D.’s one of the best players and great persons in the league. For them to have two guys like that definitely means a lot. (Kuechly) is a great player and an even better person.”