Named after the late Pittsburgh Steelers owner, the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award is handed out annually since 2014 to an NFL player who “best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.” This year, Matthew Slater has been deemed the best fit for this description.
The New England Patriots’ long-time team captain and special teams ace was announced the winner of the award during Thursday night’s NFL Honors ceremony in Los Angeles. At that point, Slater already knew he would win the award: Patriots owner Robert Kraft had told him the news back at Gillette Stadium.
They don’t come better than Matthew Slater ❤️ pic.twitter.com/eaexPQ1Prt— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 11, 2022
A five-time nominee and three-time finalist, Slater will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice. He can now also add another accolade to his already impressive résumé.
Originally joining the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2008, Slater is a 10-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time first-team All-Pro who helped his team win three Super Bowls. He furthermore earned the prestigious Bart Starr Award back in 2017.
“As a 10-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time Super Bowl Champion, Matthew is already recognized as the most accomplished special teams performer in NFL history,” Kraft said in a statement shared by the Patriots. “He is an even better person. He is a man of tremendous faith whose character shines bright.
“His leadership, on and off the field, has earned him the respect and admiration of his coaches and teammates, who have voted him as their team captain for the past 11 years. In my opinion, there is no player more deserving of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship award than Matthew Slater. He is a tremendous ambassador for the New England Patriots and the National Football League.”
Slater was one of eight finalists for this year’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.
Nominated alongside him were quarterback Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills), wide receiver Brandin Cooks (Houston Texans), defensive back Jason McCourty (Miami Dolphins) in the AFC. The NFC’s representatives were linebacker Lavonte David (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), defensive end Cameron Jordan (New Orleans Saints), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (San Francisco 49eers) and wide receiver Adam Thielen (Minnesota Vikings).