Matthew Slater is one of the most respected players in the New England Patriots locker room. The special teams ace is a seven-year team captain, works as the Patriots players representative at the NFLPA, and traditionally breaks down the post-game huddle in the locker room. In short: Slater is as a leader both on and off the field.
It is therefore no surprise that the six-time Pro Bowler, who received the prestigious Bart Starr Award earlier this year, is listed as the Patriots' nominee for yet another award – one that was first introduced in 2014 and honors sportsmanship: The Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, named after the late Pittsburgh Steelers owner.
Each of the 32 NFL teams has nominated one player and the Patriots' representative is Slater, as has been announced yesterday. In the next step, a panel of former players – among them ex-Patriot Curtis Martin – will determine eight finalists; in mid-December, each teams' players will then vote as one for a finalist to receive the award (with teams unable to vote for their own candidates).
The winner of the NFL's sportsmanship award will be announced as part of the NFL honors ceremony on the eve of Super Bowl LII. Not only will he receive a trophy but also a $25,000 donation from the league to a charity of his choice.