FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater has been named the 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award Winner. Slater won the prestigious award for the first time after being a finalist for the third consecutive season and fourth time overall. He will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice.
"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 Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "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."
The Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award is given 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," per the NFL.
Slater is a veteran of 14 NFL seasons with the Patriots after originally joining the team as a fifth-round draft selection (153rd overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft out of UCLA. He has played in 206 career regular-season games with three starts and 25 postseason contests with one start. Slater is an 11-time team captain and has earned 10 Pro Bowl invitations as a special teamer, the most special teams Pro Bowl honors in NFL history.
The winner of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award is determined by a vote of current NFL players. The eight finalists this season, featuring four players from each conference, were quarterback Josh Allen (Buffalo), wide receiver Brandin Cooks (Houston), defensive back Jason McCourty (Miami) and Slater in the AFC, linebacker Lavonte David (Tampa Bay), defensive end Cameron Jordan (New Orleans), fullback Kyle Juszcyk (San Francisco) and wide receiver Adam Thielen (Minnesota).
The award was created in 2014 in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Rooney, Sr.