Matthew Slater is one of the most respected players not just in the New England Patriots’ locker room but the entire NFL. The special teams ace has been voted a team captain 11 years in a row, a reflection of his status as one of the team’s leaders on and off the field.
It is therefore no surprise that the nine-time Pro Bowler, who received the prestigious Bart Starr Award in 2017, is listed as the Patriots’ nominee for yet another award — one that was first introduced in 2014: the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, named after the late Pittsburgh Steelers owner.
Each of the NFL’s 32 teams has nominated one player. As has been announced on Thursday, Slater is the Patriots’ choice.
The 36-year-old is no stranger to being nominated for this award: the Patriots have picked him in each of the last four seasons as well, even though he came up empty-handed each time. The Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award is therefore one of the only honors he has not year earned in his distinguished career.
In the next step, a panel of former players will determine eight finalists. Each team’s players will then vote as one for a finalist to receive the award in mid-December, with teams unable to vote for their own candidates. The winner of the award will finally be announced as part of the NFL Honors ceremony on the eve of Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles.
He will receive a trophy as well as a $25,000 donation from the league to a charity of his choice.