In November, the NFL announced the 32 players nominated by their respective teams for this year’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. For the third year in a row, the New England Patriots decided to go with one of their most respected players: Matthew Slater. Slater is of course no stranger to being honored for his demeanor and action on and off the field considering that he is a nine-time captain and recipient of the prestigious Bart Starr Award.
In a follow-up step, a panel of former players determined eight finalists out of those nominated by each organization — and for the first time in the last three years, as was announced by the league yesterday, Slater has made it to the next round:
- WR Matthew Slater (New England Patriots)
- DL Calais Campbell (Jacksonville Jaguars)
- LB Thomas Davis Sr. (Los Angeles Chargers)
- WR T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis Colts)
- RB Adrian Peterson (Washington Redskins)
- QB Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
- OT Joe Staley (San Francisco 49ers)
- DB Eric Weddle (Los Angeles Rams)
Later this month, each team’s players will then vote as a single entity to determine one of the eight finalists to receive the award, with clubs unable to vote for their own candidates. The winner of the award will eventually be announced as part of the NFL Honors ceremony on the eve of Super Bowl 54 in Miami. Not only will he receive a trophy but also a $25,000 donation from the league to a charity of his choice.
If picked by his peers, Slater would become the first member of the Patriots organization to win the award that was originally introduced in 2014 and named after late Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney.