Matthew Slater is one of the most respected players in the New England Patriots locker room. The core special teamer is a six-year team captain, works as the Patriots payers representative at the NFLPA, and traditionally breaks down the post-game huddle. In short: He is as a leader both on and off the field.
The 31-year old does not only enjoy the respect of his teammates, he is also well respected across the league. Today’s news that Slater has been voted the 2017 Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award winner, as announced by a Patriots press release, further reflects how highly regarded he is among his peers.
The award is given out every year to a player that exemplifies character and leadership on and off the field. And this year, that player is Matthew Slater – the first Patriot to win the award since it was created in 1989. Slater, who held a pre-scheduled press conference earlier today, had to say the following about the honor:
It was really emotional for me. I think you guys know well enough by covering me that I really value the human element of football. I really value the relationships that I’ve made with people over the years. You know all that stems from the faith that I have in God and the way that I was raised by my parents. I’m a man who is far from perfect but I really feel like the Lord has done a lot of great things in my life and he’s working on me as a man, as a husband, as a father.
But I’ve always tried to keep in perspective that I’m no different than anybody else because I play football; it’s just a job. But again, at the end of the day, the connection you make with people, the way you treat people, the things that you try to stand for and believe in, although it may be not perfect at times, it is something that’s very important to me. So, to win this award – an award my dad won in 1996 – it’s really hard to put in words; it really is.
As Slater noted, his father – Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater – won the award in 1996. This makes the Slaters the first father and son duo to win the prestigious award, which will be given to the younger Slater on Super Bowl weekend.
Edit: Slater shares the touching story on how he learned about winning the award.