For the first time in 20 years, the New England Patriots will not have a winning season, ending with a 7-9 record at best in 2020 if they beat the New York Jets on Sunday.
Speaking with the media Wednesday, longtime special teams captain Matthew Slater took a moment to address Patriots fans regarding the season’s outcome.
“We certainly missed you guys this year. We missed you guys cheering us on in the stands,” Slater said. “We do pray that you guys are all staying safe and healthy with all the challenges that 2020 has presented. I know that a lot of you are disappointed in the season that we had, just as much as we are. We’re sorry we didn’t represent ourselves in a better way in terms of wins and losses.
“But as I mentioned earlier in this press conference, I think that there’s never going to be a moment in time where we settle for this type of season, this type of outing. Like I said, the leadership we have here is always going to push this organization to be great, and to be great in all areas. That’s not going to change Sunday, and that’s not going to change moving forward. So stick with us. I know the demands are high, as they should be, and that’s why we love you guys so much. But stick with us, and we’ll keep fighting.”
Slater has become the longest tenured Patriot post Tom Brady and a vocal leader in the locker room dating back to his drafting out of UCLA in 2008. He has been a member of five trips to the Super Bowl over that span and has earned nine Pro Bowl honors.
As for what he envisions the Patriots future to look like, Slater doesn’t expect the expectations to change as long as Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft are around.
“The quest here will always be about winning. The goal here will always be about winning. As long as Coach Belichick is here and Mr. Kraft owns the team, that’s going to be the expectation for that entire locker room. And when I say winning, yes winning ends ultimately with the score of football games. But it also starts in the meeting rooms. It starts in the weight room. It starts with what we do to get ourselves physically and mentally prepared to do. We’re expected to win here. It also starts with the way we represent ourselves as ambassadors for this organization and the community. That’s as big a part of winning as anything. We want to win there as well. And then I think winning also centers around the type of men that we build and continue to foster here in this environment. I’ve been around so many great men here in my 13 years. I think that’s part of the Patriot Way —is building leaders, building men who are going to go away from this game and have impacts in other places. They’re going to impact their families. They’re going to impact their communities. The people that are around them are going to be better for having known those men. So when I say ‘winning’, I don’t just mean the score was 17-10 the Patriots won. We want to win in all areas. That’s an organizational belief. That’s a culture that’s been here”.
Slater went on to discuss what he hopes his legacy is on the franchise.
“When my time is up here, I hope that I’ve carried the torch well enough, and that I’ve displayed enough that well enough to the other men around here that they’ll be able to take it from me and the other guys and continue to carry it on to new heights. So that’s what I expect to hold true here. I know the men and women I’ve worked with here, that’s what they stand for, that’s what they believe and that’s what they’re going to continue to push for. Whether I’m a part of this or not moving forward, I expect it to be the same. And I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the Patriots, no question”.
Slater, who signed a two-year contract extension back in March, hasn’t made a decision his own future with the Patriots yet, but knows he doesn’t want to play anywhere else.
“You know, I don’t know,” Slater went on to say Wednesday.
“That’s something that Shahrzad [his wife] and I are going to have to pray about and we are going to have to see what we feel like is best for our family,” Slater said. “And obviously there’s got to be a desire from the organization to want me back here. I don’t see myself playing anywhere else. So we’ll be praying about that, like we have been the last couple years. If we feel the Lord is telling us to do something, we want to be obedient in that way. I’m certainly thankful for all the things that I’ve been able to continue to do off the football field – relationally, and pouring into guys, and that will all factor in. And then obviously, physically and opportunity wise. We’ll cross that road when we get to it. I think now it’s important, as I mentioned in the last question, to finish out what we started here in 2020 and see where we are when the time comes.”
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