The New England Patriots' Super Bowl victory parade along the snow-lined streets of Boston on Wednesday will be a celebration of a team accomplishment. For Matthew Slater, the championship is also a family victory.
The Patriots' special teams captain waited seven years to win a Super Bowl. His father, Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater, waited 20 and never did.
"More than anything, this is special to me because my dad gave 20 years to this league. He gave everything he had for 20 years, played into his 40s and he never got a chance to do this," Matthew Slater said Sunday after New England's 28-24 victory over Seattle in Arizona. "For me as a Slater, to represent him — the name on my back — to represent Jackie Slater as a world champion, it means more to me than anybody can imagine."
"My dad gave 20 years to this league ... played into his 40s and he never got a chance to do this."Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater
"My dad has had more influence on my career than any other person in my life," Matthew Slater said prior to Super Bowl XLIX. "I was 10 years old when he retired, so I don't remember the games as much, but I remember the offseason preparation that he put in, the sacrifices that he made."
In his playing days, Jackie was a mountain of muscle listed at 6-foot-4, 277 pounds, who used his size and strength to protect 24 Rams quarterbacks including Pat Haden and Jim Everett. His blocking ability played a key role in the success of running backs Wendell Tyler and Eric Dickerson. Matthew is 6 feet tall and 198 pounds and is a special teams jack-of-all-trades, sometimes returning kicks, sometimes flying down the field to make a tackle on punts.
They're two very different jobs, but both roles require players who understand that other positions will get more attention and credit than theirs.
"The guys that I played with know how hard I worked in practice every day," Jackie Slater told Only A Game at the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Fan Fest event in Cleveland in May. "They know how hard I worked in games every day. They know I came to work every day and brought my lunch pail and they appreciated me for the mundaneness of my job. That's all that matters."
That work ethic passed from father to son. New England's motto this season was "Do Your Job," and Matthew Slater has done his well. In seven years with the team, he has made four Pro Bowl appearances. This was his second Super Bowl appearance. The first was with the 2011 Patriots team that lost to the New York Giants.
"For all that hard work to pay off, I think about countless operations I've had, times I've wondered if I'd be the same again," Matthew Slater said. "And the Lord's brought me through all that and allowed us to experience this. It's unbelievable. Unbelievable."
Matthew says his dad is still a loyal Rams fan, but he was a Patriots fan on Sunday.
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