Slater officially announces retirement

Image courtesy of Nick Cammett/Diamond Images (Getty Images)

During Jets week to close out a dismal regular season, Matthew Slater joked that the media had ‘already made the decision’ for him when it came to retirement.

If we knew, he most certainly knew the time was coming.

What felt like the inevitable finally happened officially on Tuesday as Slater officially announced his retirement after a stellar 16-year career with the Patriots.

“Pats Nation, it has been an honor to represent the silver, red, white, and blue for 16 years,” Slater wrote in his incredibly thoughtful and passionate statement. “Thank you for cheering, challenging and supporting our team each and every year. To the people of New England, thank you for welcoming my family and me into your community and allowing us to call New England home. We are beyond humbled and blessed. You the fans make an NFL player’s experience what it is. Thank you for supporting not only me but our great game.”

A first-ballot Hall of Fame player, Slater made special teams important around here during a time when the team was in the midst of the greatest dynasty in league history. Adam Vinatieri was the first to do so, but Slater’s lasting impact on and off the field can’t be overstated.

3× Super Bowl champion (XLIX, LI, LIII), 5x First-team All-Pro (2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2019), 3× Second-team All-Pro (2017, 2020, 2021), 10× Pro Bowl (2011–2017, 2019–2021).

Not bad.

Slater was the definition of consistency and dependability, playing in 239 games and 25 playoff games, missing just 20 in 16 years.

A man of deep faith, Slater was always positive no matter what was happening. He’d acknowledge when things weren’t good – especially this past season where you could tell it was mentally draining on everyone – but he always saw the good in a situation and believed the Patriots were in the current place they’re in for a reason.

Slater always appreciated the opportunity to wear the uniform and made sure he thanked the Krafts and Bill Belichick while saying goodbye.

“To the Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization: Thank you for your continued support and belief. Thank you for always treating me and my family like your family. I truly believe I have been a part of the best organization in all of pro sports.

“To Coach Belichick: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to pursue my childhood dream. Thank you for your belief in me. You took a chance on me and kept me around when many would not have. It is a great honor to know that I played for the best coach in the history of our league.”

Personally, I will always appreciate how Matt treated me as a nervous young journalist and then again in our interactions once I was lucky enough to cover the team years later. I posted this on social media earlier Tuesday morning, but for those that didn’t see it, I just want to share a quick story…

Following the 2022 Jets game, I walked up to him in the locker room to congratulate him & ask a couple questions. It was only my 2nd season covering the team & I hadn’t wanted to bother him to that point. But, I walked over & introduced myself, explaining that we had actually met at a Metro West Daily News banquet where he was a speaker in 2015.

He remembered everything about the interaction, asking me how my career had been doing since & adding a “what have you been waiting for all season?”

Throughout last year he’d joke with me about being afraid to bother him the year prior whenever I saw him. After the season finale I congratulated him on his career & he told me if I ever needed anything he’s a phone call away.

Everything you see & hear about Matt is true. No one will ever match his professionalism & kindness.

We often joke that the Patriot Way was just the Tom Brady way, but in reality, guys like Slater and David Andrews – who may not be far behind Slater in retiring – are why the Patriots had so much success for so long. His ability to connect with teammates both young and old and help get the best out of them isn’t a quality all players have.

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Psalm 115:1 …Dad, you blazed the trail. You set the standard. I hope I didn’t miss anything,” Slater added while closing his statement.

“I hope I followed those footsteps well. It was never a burden. Only a blessing. A gift from the Lord…

“How do I feel about being a Patriot for life?”

…”AWW YEAH!!!”

May God Bless you all!

Matthew Slater”

Slater did everything the right way on and off the field and inspired people in the process. What more can you ask for in a teammate and a person?

There aren’t many like him and there won’t be many more. Rooting for and covering Slater has been an absolute pleasure.

The outpouring of love he’s receiving on social media and the radio airwaves is so well-deserved and both the red and gold jackets he eventually receives will be too.