Today I had the opportunity to hear Patriots’ Pro Bowl Special Team Captain Matthew Slater speak at a local church near my house, and afterwards have lunch with him. It was an awesome experience. He was a great speaker and comes across as an extremely humble and relatable person. At one point he said, “I’m no different than anyone else in this crowd. My job description might be a little different, but other than that I’m just like the rest of you.” He went on to talk about his faith in God, the role his father played in his life, and his journey to the NFL after not starting at UCLA.
After the service, we were fortunate enough to be sitting at the same table as Slater during lunch, and had some great conversations. I asked him about Tom Brady, and he had a couple of good stories about him during the Super Bowl. At the end of the game when the Patriots were about to kneel, Slater was drifting huddle thinking the game was over and playing it casual, when Brady grabbed him and yelled “SLATE! GET BACK IN THE HUDDLE.” Slater said that Brady was a really nice guy, but really intense on game day which this story illustrated. He also said the first thing Brady said in the locker room after the game was that they were going to win it next year. We asked him about Gronkowski, and he didn’t give specific stories but said Gronk is the same way behind the scenes that we see from him in public.
He was asked about the rule changes in the NFL, and said half-jokingly how the NFL targets the Patriots with the rule-making each year, this time with the ineligible receiver rule. He mentioned how they saw an opportunity to expose the Ravens with the ineligible receiver switches while watching film. Slater wasn’t a fan of any changes to the extra point, and thought the kickoffs should be moved back to the 30 as well. J.J. Watt is his favorite active player outside of the Patriots, and he thinks Revis is the best cornerback in the league, better than Sherman. When asked about the most surprising offseason move, he said the Eagles trading Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford.
Overall, Matthew Slater was a genuinely kind, humble, and interesting person to talk to. He signed every autograph and took every picture that people requested, despite being in a sling for his arm. He thanked the church multiple times for having him, and only requested that people donate to a charity that he supports in return. The offseason is almost over for him however, as the Patriots will start back up on April 20, and begin their quest for a fifth Super Bowl championship.
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