Patriots legend Matthew Slater announces retirement, grateful for 'grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus'

Following a record-setting, 16-year NFL career, New England Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater officially announced his retirement Tuesday. He released a statement through the Patriots and, fittingly, opened it with Scripture:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” — 2 Timothy 4:7

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With 10 appearances, Slater owns the record for most special teams Pro Bowl selections. He spent his entire career with the Patriots after being a fifth-round pick in 2008 out of UCLA, and was a team captain for 13 consecutive seasons. He is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, and could very well end up in that same select company one day.

Slater is also a man of God who has long been unashamed of sharing about his faith publicly.

“As a player, God used the game of football to instruct, discipline, encourage, and develop me as a person,” he shared in his statement. “In 2008, I came here as a young man with hopes and dreams. In 2024, I can retire knowing this experience has exceeded any hope or dream I ever had.”

Slater went on to thank a number of people, beginning with his parents.

“To my mother and father, Annie and Jackie Slater: Thank you for committing to raise and support me the way you did. Thank you for instilling in me the importance of faith in Christ and the importance of loving the people around you,” he said.

He later specifically thanked the Lord and included more Scripture.

“Many of you know me to be a man of faith. I truly believe without the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus, I would not be writing this. Lord, thank You for making a way when there seemed to be none. Thank You for preserving my body and my mind throughout the years. Thank You for all the wonderful people you sent into my life. Thank You for Your grace and mercy in my life. This is Your story, and I am thankful You chose me to be a part of it. I love You,” he said, before adding:

“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

The Patriots flooded their social media channels with posts about Slater on Tuesday, including a seven-minute mic’d up video of his final game.

Numerous teammates and folks within the organization also posted tributes to Slater.

“He is a role model, not just for young players, but for everyone,” Patriots CEO Robert Kraft said. “He is a man of integrity and high moral character who is led by his faith and committed to his family. There is no finer person than Matthew Slater.”

“He is an incredible human being and an extraordinary father, husband, son, friend and teammate, to name just a few of the many key roles he plays for countless people who have been fortunate enough to be graced by his presence. Matthew and his lovely family, including his wife, Shahrzad, and beautiful children, Jeremiah, Hannah, Noah and Micah, are led by faith and commitment, example and action,” said new Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo, who played alongside Slater for eight seasons.

On Instagram, legendary quarterback Tom Brady posted a picture of him and Slater, and wrote, “A true champion. The best teammate and an even better man. Congratulations on the perfect career.”


Slater has sat down for numerous conversations with Sports Spectrum over the years, and collaborated with us for a devotional in the Winter 2023 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine. He spoke specifically about leadership, a quality he often exhibited.

“Leadership is really about servanthood. It’s about others. It’s about humility,” he wrote. “It’s about how you can bring out the best in those around you. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s the example we should follow.”

Though his retirement didn’t become official until Tuesday, it was widely expected that the Patriots’ final regular-season game on Jan. 7 would be his last NFL game. Thus, the entire team wore “Captain 18” hoodies for warmups that day.

In closing his statement, Slater again honored his earthly father, and reiterated his career was a gift from his Heavenly Father.

“Dad, you blazed the trail. You set the standard. I hope I didn’t miss anything. 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!”

>> Do you know Christ personally? Learn how you can commit your life to Him. <<

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