Matthew Slater

New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team. To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.

Matthew Slater photo

New England Patriots Captain, Matthew Slater

Admired throughout the NFL for his athletic skills, leadership
and his community outreach efforts,
what matters most to him is his relationship with God

The word “humble” comes up a lot when teammates, coaches, or friends talk about Matthew Slater, wide receiver, safety, gunner, and special teams captain for the New England Patriots who has played in three Pro Bowls since first being drafted in 2008. Matthew truly believes he is an agent of God, doing the Lord’s work even as he passes and intercepts on the football field.

Raised by his mother, Annie, and his father, Jackie, who was himself an NFL Hall-of-Famer, Matthew had an intimate view of his future world in the NFL from an early age.

“It was a unique experience to grow up with a dad who was in the Hall of Fame,” Matthew recalled. “I was able to experience a lot of things most youngsters don’t have the opportunity to experience. But most importantly, he shared his faith, which was always what led him. And that was the perspective with which I viewed my world. My faith is the most important thing in my life. Beyond football, beyond family, because I believe I can’t be a good member of my team or of my family without first honoring my faith. “

But after being red-shirted in his freshman year at UCLA and then plagued by a series of injuries in his subsequent college years, Matthew found himself questioning God’s presence. “I was left with a lot of doubt,” he admitted. “Was God really present in my life? Was He really who I had been raised to believe He was? When things didn’t go my way, I became upset and angry.”

But with a combination of faith in God; strong coaching on the field; the mentorship of his parents, his pastor, and other trusted adults; and his own inner strength, both physical and mental, he was able to overcome these obstacles. And nothing could have spoken louder to him about the power of God than what happened in the 2008 draft. “Hearing my name spoken was equivalent to seeing the Red Sea parted and seeing Lazarus rise from the dead. There’s no other explanation for how a player who never started a college game, who literally never had one productive college season, could be drafted in the fifth round by the New England Patriots. It was certainly a surprise and very humbling, and the biggest sign we’d ever been given of God’s presence.”

And when he infamously caused his team to lose an important game against the Steelers during his first season, he reached back to the spiritual lessons of his college years to get through it. “I took it really hard. It was a big shock to my confidence. I felt like I’d let everyone down: my teammates, the coaches, the fans.”

Instead of doubting his faith as he did when he was younger, he turned immediately to God. “That’s where you have to remind yourself what’s really important beyond the game of football. That’s not to say I don’t value and love the sport and want to work hard at it, but it’s more important to remember that you are grounded first and foremost in Christ.”

Matthew’s natural leadership abilities have arguably done as much as his athletic skills to make him a stand-out among his team members. Not only is he a Patriots captain; he was one of the very few players ever requested by Coach Bill Belichick to accompany the team to away games even when he was on the disabled list.

When not on the field or in training, Matthew enacts his rock-solid Christian values through community service and outreach. He won the Ron Burton Community Service Award in 2013, but he hastens to say that he doesn’t do it for the accolades. Along with considering it a spiritual imperative, he truly enjoys community outreach. He works in youth fitness outreach programs and in encouraging teens and young adults to finish school and stay out of trouble. He is also the team representative for United Way.

At the moment, things couldn’t be going better for Matthew as a player – but that doesn’t stop him from looking ahead to the future. When his football days are over, he dreams of furthering his mission to bring spirituality to others by joining the ministry profession, perhaps as a youth outreach worker. “The message I want most to communicate to everyone I encounter is that I don’t need to be praised or given recognition for football. I humbly accept it, at the end of the day, I recognize that I am a flawed man who has been very blessed. God makes himself available to everyone through a relationship in His son Jesus. He has a unique plan for everyone. It may not be football, but he loves you and has a plan.”
With his profound sense of spirituality, his love of family, his leadership skills, and his eagerness to reach out to the community, Matthew Slater exemplifies the qualities of an Insightful Player® team member.

Instant replay of Matthew Slater’s Guiding Principles:

  1. Respect and attend to your parents, spiritual leaders, coaches, and other adults. Look to them for strength and advice.
  2. Be a source of comfort and nurturing to your family.
  3. Help your community. Use your own strengths to support those who might need more strength of their own.
  4. Refrain from judging others. Acknowledge that each of us has his or her own private struggle.
  5. Don’t blame God or anyone else when things don’t go your way. Instead, focus on what you can improve.
  6. Carry yourself as a role model for teammates and the young people who look up to you.
  7. Maintain a sense of balance and keep sight of your priorities. Remember that sports and other pursuits will never be as important to your life as family or God.
  8. Above all else, look to God as your source of sustenance and guidance.

The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her newly released book,INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit or call 603-897-0610

©2014  Insightful Player, LLC

New England Patriots Hall of Famer Steve Nelson believes when you become a better teammate you become a better person

You can’t reach every single one of your goals, said former New England Patriots Hall of Famer and former college coach Steve Nelson. And he’s learned not only to be philosophical but to recognize how much there is to be learned from that lesson. For example, he played in three Pro Bowls, but said that “I would trade that experience a hundred times to play for one team that won the Super Bowl.” When he did finally make it to the Super Bowl in 1986, his team lost. Naturally, that was disappointing, Steve said, but only served to underscore his belief that “as you dream and you set goals, you also come to realize that you don’t make all your goals, and that’s okay.”

The linebacker who missed only three games during his 14-season career with the Patriots explains his longevity as a function of his passion for football—and its underlying structure. “You really have to love and enjoy the sport, enjoy your teammates, and be able to have a great experience playing, no matter what sport you play,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether your sport is football or another team sport or even an individual sport; there are still the same fundamentals required to reach your goal.”

The fact that he believes so strongly in being part of a team may partially explain his commitment to football. “The first thing you have to recognize about playing on a team is that the team comes first. Once you understand and accept that, you really start enjoying what team sports are all about.”

“When you’re part of an effectively functioning team, you appreciate everyone else more. You understand people more. You get to know them better when you’re all doing something for a common cause. You develop greater relationships with your teammates.” And yet that doesn’t mean giving up your sense of worth as an individual, he emphasizes. “When you understand everyone else’s job, that understanding paves the way to individual success. And as you become a better teammate, that translates into you becoming a better person.”

After all, Steve pointed out, as part of a team, you can be playing at the top of your game and still end up losing because of other players. When that happens, “You understand that things don’t always go the way you planned and you have to make adjustments. Sometimes no matter how much you adjust, you’re still going to be beaten. These are all the little life lessons that football teaches you about not giving up. And about the fact that working hard really does count toward your success.”

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