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Patriots captain Matthew Slater announces retirement after legendary career

Doug Kyed, Boston Herald on

Published in Football

BOSTON — As the Patriots proceed in a new era, they’ll be doing it without special teams captain Matthew Slater.

Slater announced his retirement Tuesday morning through the Patriots’ social media channels.

Slater retires as a three-time Super Bowl champion, five-time first-team All-Pro, three-time second-team All-Pro and 10-time Pro Bowl selection. He was named to the Patriots’ All-2010s and All-Dynasty teams and earned the Bart Starr Award, given to the player who “best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community,” in 2017 and the Art Rooney Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding sportsmanship on the playing field, in 2021.

Slater was voted a team captain for 13 straight seasons.

Former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick campaigned for Slater’s Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy during the 2023 season and called him the best special teams coverage player in NFL history.

“I think Slater is eventually going to be a Hall of Fame candidate,” Belichick said in December. “As a coverage player, not as a specialist. For what he is, he’s not a returner. So, he’s in a very unique category. One that I don’t think is represented in the Hall of Fame, but based on what he did during his career, the length of time he did it, and the level he’s done it at. Again, since there’s no criteria for the Hall of Fame, there’s no criteria. But I would say this guy has been as productive as anybody has ever been at his position throughout his entire career, which is very lengthy. I think he’s the best that’s ever done what he’s done, whether that’s Hall of Fame worthy or not, that’s a different subject that I don’t have a say in. I can’t imagine putting anybody in there ahead of him at that position.”

 

Belichick also called Slater “just about the perfect player” last season.

Slater’s retirement was expected, though he wouldn’t directly address it at the end of the 2023 season. Patriots teammates wore sweatshirts to honor Slater during their season finale against the Jets.

“I feel very appreciated by the people in the building,” Slater said before his final game. “Certainly just thankful for how everyone has treated me this week, and the thanks they’ve expressed and things like that. I’m sure it’ll be emotional Sunday for obvious reasons. But my job is to focus on playing football, and I’ve always tried to do my job. So, that’s not going to change on Sunday.”

Slater was selected in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL draft out of UCLA. The Patriots tried him at wide receiver and safety before he settled into his role as a core special-teams player. He missed just 20 games during his 16-year career and appeared in 25 playoff games, including five Super Bowls.

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