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Matthew Slater Talks NFL Retirement and Much More

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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 retired from the NFL following the 2023 season. He spent his entire 16-year career with the New England Patriots. Slater will certainly find himself in the Patriots Hall of Fame in a few years. He has a chance to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well. Although a special teams player has never been inducted in Canton, no other special teams player in history has been named to 10 Pro Bowl teams and won three Super Bowls.

This past weekend Slater was a guest on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast, talking to his former teammate about retirement and many more topics. Both are sons of Pro Football Hall of Fame players who enjoyed outstanding careers of their own. Long has a ton of respect for Slater, stating that he is the person he would most trust watching Long’s children if he had to leave the country. The host compared Slater playing the 2023 season as a captain going down with the ship.

“Other than being 4-13 it was really fun,” said Slater sincerely about his final year.

As for his final game with the Patriots, the longtime special teams captain was his usual classy self.

“I was just overwhelmed with gratitude. I just always assumed the game would be done with me before I would be done with it.”

Regarding Week 18 potentially being Bill Belichick’s final game as well, he stated, “I was really hoping it wasn’t Bill’s last game.”

And what will Matthew Slater miss the most in retirement? “Being with the guys. That’s what makes the experience.”

On the Jerod Mayo Era in New England

“I don’t think the ‘Patriot Way’ changes philosophically. Maybe the way it’s applied and executed changes,” reasoned Slater. “But all those things in terms of doing your job, working hard, putting the team first, I think those are things you can apply in almost any arena. And certainly, it would be smart of Jerod (Mayo) to continue to try to work toward those principles.”

Matthew Slater explained, “Jerod (Mayo)’s going to be different. He’s going to be laughing, joking, having a good time. And that’s fine, I think he needs to operate within his strengths. But I do think, the last 24 years that place had a lot of success, and I don’t think you just want to burn it to the ground and forget what was done there. So he’s got to find his middle ground and go from there.”

Slater endorsed the hiring of his former teammate Dont’a Hightower to the coaching staff. He also praised defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington, who he stated has “tremendous people skills.”

“Football is a relationship business,” Slater explained.

“I love what he (Mayo)’s doing and I hope it just all meshes together.”

On Former Patriots Staff Members

Bill Belichick was not brought up as a topic, though he was sprinkled throughout the episode. Matthew Slater discussed some other former staff members in New England though. He noted one positive aspect of “The Dynasty” was Ernie Adams getting some of the recognition he deserved for the contributions he made to the organization.

“There isn’t anything this guy doesn’t know about football,” Slater said of Adams.

Long asked Slater if he thought any Patriots coaches didn’t get the recognition they deserved. He pointed to two, for both their work as well as what they had to deal with.

Longtime running backs coach Ivan Fears had to, “Deal with a lot of interesting personalities.”

Former wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea received sympathy as well as praise for “having to deal with Randy (Moss) and Wes (Welker) to Dola (Danny Amendola) and Jules (Julian Edelman) and everything in between.”

On Former Patriots Teammates

Matthew Slater enjoyed making fun of his good friend Julian Edelman. “I can’t get on this guy enough,” Slater admitted. He told some great stories of Edelman’s relationships with Tom Brady and others.

Chris Long asked Slater to explain what it is like to be friends with Tom Brady.

“He’s honestly one of the nicest people I’ve ever been around,” Slater answered. “I would say the most humble superstar that I’ve certainly ever met.”

Other Topics Covered

Slater and Long touched base on many other topics, including proposed changes to the kickoff rules.

“There’s inherent risk in football,” Slater explained. “All of us have signed up and agreed to that risk.”

Other questions included the hardest jobs on special teams, Slater’s favorite win, his toughest loss, letting his children play football, and the one guy he wished he played with.

To watch the complete episode of New England Patriots great Matthew Slater on The Green Light with Chris Long, click here.

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