By Bill Bradley, contributing editor
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is among five players participating in Sunday's NFL championship games who were selected to the NFL All-Fundamentals Team, USA Football announced Wednesday morning.
The fifth annual All-Fundamentals Team honors players who display the offensive and defensive techniques that promote the standards of USA Football, which sponsors the Heads Up Football program and is the governing body of football.
Besides Manning, the team features San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore, Seattle Seahawks defensive backs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas and New England Patriots punter Stephen Gostkowski. Thomas was selected to the team for the second year in a row.
"These 26 men serve as examples to the millions of youth football players across the nation that fundamentals are vital to success at every level," said Carl Peterson, USA Football's chairman and longtime NFL executive who helped to select the team. "According to medical experts, players who master the fundamentals and learn them at younger ages are safer as they progress within the sport."
Fox Sports analyst Charles Davis, former NFL coach Herman Edwards, former NFL running back Merril Hoge and former NFL general manager Bill Polian also helped to pick the team.
The process for selecting the team began in November. Two of the four previous quarterbacks named to the team -- Drew Brees in 2009 and Aaron Rodgers in 2010 -- were selected as the Super Bowl MVP at the end of that season.
USA Football will donate a $1,500 equipment grant to a youth or high school team of each player's choice. Also, fans can vote for a captain of offense, defense and special teams. Each of the three winners will receive another $3,000 grant to donate and a helmet trophy.
2013 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team – Offense:
2013 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team – Defense:
2013 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team – Special Teams: