New England Patriots

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft talks with Matthew Slater #18 of the New England Patriots prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater can finally add a long-awaited prestigious honor to his trophy case. Slater has won the NFL’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award for the first time in his career.

Slater had been a finalist for the award for three straight seasons and four times overall. As part of the honor, he received a $25,000 donation for a charity of his choice.

The NFL describes the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award as an honor given annually to the player “who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.”

“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,” said Robert Kraft, per a press release from 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 played in all 17 games for the Patriots in 2021, and has played 69 (nice) consecutive games going back to 2017. He was also an Associated Press Second Team All-Pro as a special teamer, and appeared in the Pro Bowl.

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