Matthew Slater is a special teams ace, but he brings a lot more than excellent punt coverage to the table.
The New England Patriots wide receiver is a fixture in the team’s community service efforts, and his leadership in the locker room and on the field has led him to be named New England’s special teams captain four seasons in a row.
Slater’s leadership brought him another recognition Tuesday, as the 29-year-old was the Patriots’ nominee for the first-ever NFL Sportsmanship Award. Each NFL team nominated one player for the award, which will be 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,” the league announced in a press release Tuesday.
A four-person voting panel comprised of Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Karl Mecklenburg and Leonard Wheeler will select eight finalists — four from each conference. At that point, players from each team will submit a consensus vote for their choice of finalist (they can’t vote for their own teammate).
The other 31 nominees feature an impressive list of talent, including Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
The winner will be selected on Jan. 31 and will receive a $25,000 donation to the charity of his choice.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports Images