New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 24: Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots reacts after a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matthew Slater isn’t just one of the best special teams players of his era. He’s one of the most respected Patriots of Bill Belichick’s tenure and one of the more respected professionals across the National Football League.

So it’s no surprise that Slater has been named a 2019 finalist for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, the Patriots announced on Thursday. This marks the first time that Slater is a finalist for the award in three straight years as a nominee.

Created in 2014 in honor of late former Steelers owner Art Rooney Sr., the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award is presented each year to the NFL player “who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.” Saints quarterback Drew Brees won the award in 2018.

Here’s the full list of finalists, which is comprised of four players from each conference:

AFC:

DL Calais Campbell, Jaguars
LB Thomas Davis, Chargers
WR T.Y. Hilton, Colts
WR Matthew Slater, Patriots

NFC:

RB Adrian Peterson, Redskins
QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
T Joe Staley, 49ers
S Eric Weddle, Rams

A panel of 32 former NFL players from the Legends Community selected the eight finalists out of the 32 nominees, one of which came from each team. Current players from each team will now submit a consensus vote as their choice for the winner. In case you were wondering, the Patriots can’t vote for Slater so they’ll have to pick someone else. My money’s on Hilton.

The award will be presented to the winner during the “NFL Honors” show on Fox the night before the Super Bowl, Saturday, Feb. 1. The winner gets a trophy and a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.