The NFL is a league of traditions, and naturally some of them are closely tied to the draft. Calling the last pick "Mr. Irrelevant", for example, or booing the commissioner whenever he is on stage. Another has been introduced a few years ago: Former players announcing draft picks.
Today, the NFL released how this year’s slate of special announcers would look like. The names of prospects selected in round two of the draft will once again be called by an ex-player representing each club. Round three, on the other hand, will feature past recipients and team winners of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
For the New England Patriots, the two announcers will be a player already in the franchise’s Hall of Fame and another who will likely join him one day:
Round 2: Andre Tippett
Round 3: Matthew Slater
Tippett, who works as the Patriots’ executive director of community affairs, was originally picked in the second round of the 1982 draft out of Iowa. He would go on to spend his entire 12-year career in New England and establish himself as one of the best linebackers of his era – and one of the best of all times. In 1999 he was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame and into the pro football version in 2008.
Slater, on the other hand, was a fifth round selection by New England in 2008. Over the course of his still ongoing career, the son of Hall of Famer Jackie Slater helped the Patriots win two Super Bowls, while having made the Pro Bowl as a special teamer every single season since 2011. His impact extends beyond the field, though, as the 31-year old also is a team captain and was the Patriots’ 2016 finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Whether or not both men will be on stage announcing Patriots draft picks – thus joining franchise greats Willie McGinest and Kevin Faulk – remains to be seen: As things currently stand, the team does not own a selection in the second round. With two third rounders, though, it appears likely that both will see time in the spotlight on Friday after all.