The 2017 season has been a somewhat challenging so far for New England Patriots special teams standout and team captain Matthew Slater. While he was his usual productive self when on the field, the 32-year old was forced to sit out a total of seven contests due to a lingering hamstring injury originally suffered during the preseason.
Despite all this, Slater has still been recognized among the NFL’s best players in the kicking game and was voted to his seventh straight Pro Bowl. Yesterday, the Patriots announced another accolade for the veteran: Slater has been named the 2017 Ed Block Courage Award recipient, following the footsteps of past winners like Nate Solder (2016), Rob Gronkowski (2013) or Tom Brady (2009).
The award, which is named after long-time Baltimore Colts athletic trainer Ed Block, is handed out by each of the NFL’s clubs to honor players who “best exemplif[y] the principles of courage and sportsmanship while also serving as a source of inspiration”. In March, Slater and the other 31 recipients from across the league will be honored at the 40th annual Ed Block Courage Awards banquet in Baltimore.
Slater is not the only member of the Patriots to receive an award this week: Safety Devin McCourty has been named the 2017 Ron Hobson Good Guy Award recipient, named after the long-time reporter. The award is given out by New England's beat writers since last year to the player most helpful and informative during the season. The trophy's initial recipient was Matthew Slater.