Skip to Content

Matthew Slater, a key player in one of the NFL’s greatest ever dynasties, retires after 16 seasons with New England Patriots

<i>Jim Davis//Boston Globe/Getty Images</i><br/>Slater celebrates after the Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks at Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.
Jim Davis//Boston Globe/Getty Images
Slater celebrates after the Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks at Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.

By Ben Morse, CNN

(CNN) — Matthew Slater, a key player in one of the NFL’s greatest ever dynasties, has announced his retirement after 16 seasons with the New England Patriots.

Slater was a key component of the Patriots’ successful run under head coach Bill Belichick, providing leadership and excellence on kick and punt returns.

“For the last 25 years of my life, 16 of them as a New England Patriot, I have been incredibly blessed to be able to emulate the man I saw on those fields in Meridian by playing the game that I love so much,” the 38-year-old Slater wrote in a statement on the Patriots’ website on Tuesday.

“I have given all that I possibly can to respect and honor the game. Though it is time for my relationship with the game to evolve, the love I have for it will last a lifetime.

“As a player, God used the game of football to instruct, discipline, encourage, and develop me as a person.

“In 2008, I came here as a young man with hopes and dreams. In 2024, I can retire knowing this experience has exceeded any hope or dream I ever had.”

Slater was drafted by the Patriots in 2008 out of UCLA in the fifth round. He was listed as a wide receiver, but made his impact in the special teams arena.

Special teams is the part of football outside of offense and defense. Roles included are punt coverage, punt returns, kick offs, kick returns, field goals and extra-point kicks after touchdowns.

He was often seen streaking down the field, making big tackles and stymieing any kick returns an opposing team might hope to run back for a score, or returning kicks.

During his time with the Patriots, Slater won three Super Bowl titles and was named to 10 Pro Bowls as well as five All-Pro teams.

Belichick, who left the Patriots in January after 24 seasons with the franchise, paid tribute to Slater, calling him the “best core special teams player in NFL history.”

“Matthew Slater deserves every accolade someone could receive. He is a once in a lifetime person,” Belichick said.

“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 & coaches) that I have coached.”

Belichick added: “Matthew is exceedingly kind, and supremely loved and respected by all his peers. I am one of many who feel incredibly blessed to be his teammate, coach, and friend.”

Slater’s retirement announcement saw an outpouring of well-wishes from a host of his former New England teammates and NFL luminaries.

Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady called Slater a “true champion” and the “best teammate and an even better man” who had had the “perfect career.”

Former Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman said he was the standard-bearer for the Patriots’ values.

“We always talk about the Patriot way. But Slater lived it. He picked me up when I needed it, and challenged me when I needed it. Without him I wouldn’t have been half the player or half the man I am today.”

Slater finished his career with 191 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also caught one pass for 46 yards on eight targets.

Given Slater’s consistency and excellence, he might be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible, continuing his family heritage after his dad, Jackie, was inducted in 2001.

“Matthew Slater wasn’t just a special teams player for the Patriots,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement on Tuesday.

“He was a special team player who helped us win three Super Bowls and made a positive impact on the many lives he touched, both on and off the field.

“On the field, his 10 Pro Bowl appearances will likely earn him a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day alongside his father.

“Off the field, he will be remembered for so much more. He is a role model, not just for young players, but for everyone. He is a man of integrity and high moral character who is led by his faith and committed to his family. There is no finer person than Matthew Slater,” added Kraft.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Sports

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content