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Matthew Slater Understands Fans Wanting to Tank

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New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater (18) talks with head coach Bill Belichick prior to an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Matthew Slater has done a lot of winning in the NFL. He has played his entire 16-year NFL career for the New England Patriots, helping them win three Super Bowls. Slater has appeared in 234 regular season games, and 25 more in the postseason. The Patriots record in those games is 159-75 in the regular season, 16-9 in the postseason. A combined record of 175-84 gives Slater a 67.6% winning percentage. The longtime team captain has had a lot of practice in how to handle success.

But the past few years in New England have not gone quite as smoothly for Slater’s squad . This season will end with Matthew Slater missing the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time. At 2-9, it is the worst start to a Patriots season since 1993. Back then, Slater’s Hall of Fame father Jackie Slater was still playing offensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams. Matthew Slater’s own illustrious NFL career was 15 years away from starting.

Despite the team’s troubles, Matthew Slater keeps doing what he has always done. The 10-time Pro Bowl selection, and tw0-time All-Pro, will continue doing whatever he can to help New England win. He plays to win. However, he understands if Patriots fans do not currently share his goals.

Fans rooting for their favorite team to lose does not make a lot of sense on the surface. But when the team in question has no hope at a playoff spot, and great chance at a high pick, priorities shift. That is exactly what has happened with a good portion of New England Patriots fans in 2023. Matthew Slater gets it.

Slater joined WEEI’s Jones & Mego with Arcand show earlier this week. The hosts asked him out he felt about fans that were rooting for the Patriots to lose in order to improve their draft position.

“I personally try to put myself in positions to understand everyone’s mode of thinking. I understand that rationale,” said Slater. He added, “I get that, and I don’t have a problem with it. I’m not offended by it at all.”

However, Slater also made clear that understanding the wishes of the fans and sharing them are two different things entirely.

“As easy as it is for the fans or pundits to look ahead to the future, as a player your future is never guaranteed. Especially for something in my position,” he explained. “I think as players it’s up to us to embrace the opportunities that we are given and treat them like they’re our last. So, the idea of losing games, or tanking, will never appeal to players.”

This mindset contributes to keeping Slater in the league for 16 years. Patriots Football Now addressed the idea of tanking earlier this season.The special teams ace addressed one of them with tomorrow never being a given in an NFL career. This year’s team cannot be concerned with next year’s team, one which will not include a great deal of them. NFL careers are too short and unpredictable.

Although Matthew Slater can understand where fans of tanking are coming from, Patriots fans in that category should not expect any assistance from him. As far as Slater is concerned, “I want to win the next six games.” Fans of his illustrious career would expect nothing less.

Award-winning blogger, Dan's work has also been featured on Fox Sports, Boston Metro, Barstool Sports, MLB.com, and many other outlets.

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