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Matthew Slater Wins 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award

BOSTON (CBS) -- Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater took home a prestigious award Thursday night, winning the 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.

Slater has been a finalist four times, but this is his first time winning the award. The 14-year veteran 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," Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said of Slater's honor. "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."

It's surprising it took this long for Slater to earn his Rooney Award, which 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." That is Matthew Slater to a tee.

Slater has been with the Patriots his entire career, drafted by New England as a fifth-round pick in 2008. He's an 11-time team captain, and his 10 Pro Bowl invitations as a special teamer are the most special teams Pro Bowl honors in NFL history.

The Art Rooney Sportsmanship 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. The winner is determined by a vote of current NFL players.

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