BOSTON (CBS) — For the first time in his 12-year career, Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater is a finalist for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.

Slater is among the eight finalists announced by the NFL on Thursday. The honor has been given out each year since 2014 in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, awarded 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.”

Slater certainly fits that bill in New England. He’s a strong voice in the New England locker room and one of the team’s most sound players on a talented special teams unit. The veteran blocked a punt two weeks ago against the Dallas Cowboys, leading to New England’s only touchdown of their 13-9 victory, which earned him Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career.

In addition to Slater, Jacksonville defensive lineman Calais Campbell, L.A. Chargers linebacker Thomas Davis Sr., Indianapolis wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, Washington running back Adrian Peterson, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, San Francisco tackle Joe Staley, and L.A. Rams safety Eric Weddle are up for this year’s award. Staley is a finalist for the fifth straight season, while Campbell and Weddle are finalists for a second straight year.

Slater has been New England’s nominee in each of the last three seasons, but has never made it to the finalist stage. The winner is determined by a vote of current NFL players, though like Pro Bowl voting, they cannot vote for their teammates. The winner will be announced during the nationally televised NFL Honors show on Saturday, February 1 — the night before Super Bowl LIV — and will receive a trophy and a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice.


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