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Special Teams, Special Legacy: Matthew Slater Retires

Explore the legacy of Matthew Slater as he announces his retirement, leaving behind a storied career and an indelible mark on the Patriots.
Matthew Slater Retires

Marking the end of a storied era, Matthew Slater – whose career is nothing short of Hall of Fame-worthy – announced his retirement through a heartfelt statement shared on the Patriots social media pages. A former fifth-round draft pick, Slater not only won three Super Bowls with the team but also became an integral part of the Patriots dynasty.

Matthew Slater: A Legacy of Greatness

Throughout his 16-year career, Slater was renowned as one of the best special teams players ever to play the game. His former head coach, Bill Belichick, took it one step further in a statement where he called Slater “the best core special teams player in NFL history.” He leaves the game with the NFL record for most special teams Pro Bowl appearances, at ten.

Belichick went on to add, “His daily, weekly, and yearly work ethic, paved the way for his unsurpassed performance. Matthew is the finest example of what an intense competitor and human being should be. He has been a great role model for the teams, players, and coaches that I have coached.”

It’s not just his own organization that recognized his greatness. In his final game in the NFL, Jets punter Thomas Morstead was seen tearing up as the two met on the field before the game. Before that very same game, there’s also a video that shows Aaron Rodgers telling Slater, “You’re a Hall of Famer.”

A Great Player, An Even Better Man

Slater’s walking away from the game with plenty of accolades, but maybe the most impressive of them all is the countless stories of him being a truly great man. Overall, anyone who has ever played with him has had nothing but glowing things to say about his leadership and personality. Patriots legend Tom Brady shared his thoughts in a post on Instagram saying, “The best teammate and an even better man. Congratulations on a perfect career.”

My personal favorite Slater story that I’ve heard through the rush of them+ flooding Patriots Twitter right now, is his interactions with local reporter Kevin J. Stone. Stone notes that he was a little hesitant to ask the special teams legend a few questions when he was newly covering the team in 2022. Once he finally did, he was treated like a friend; with Slater trying to form a relationship with Stone. Slater told Stone to call him if he ever needed anything when the two spoke at the end of this season.

As the longest-tenured Boston sports athlete, Slater didn’t have to go out of his way to be nice to this reporter. The fact that he went as far as to tell him to reach out if he needed anything shows you exactly who Slater is as a person. By all accounts, that’s how he was with everyone he met.

Captain Slater

Spending 13 of his 16 years in New England as a captain, Slater was often the voice in the locker room after big games. In fact, his famous “AWW YEAH” chant in the locker room is something all Patriots fans will miss.  He embodied leadership and the very essence of what it means to be a New England Patriot. As he steps away, Matthew Slater leaves behind a legacy that transcends his on-field achievements. Celebrated not just for his game but also for his profound impact on teammates, rivals, and fans alike. Slater’s retirement, on top of Belichick’s departure, truly feels like turning the page on a dynastic era.

Main Photo: David Butler – USA Today Sports


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