Updated: May 15, 2021
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:
Respect and attend to your parents, spiritual leaders, coaches, and other adults. Look to them for strength and advice.
Be a source of comfort and nurturing to your family.
Help your community. Use your own strengths to support those who might need more strength of their own.
Refrain from judging others. Acknowledge that each of us has his or her own private struggle.
Don’t blame God or anyone else when things don’t go your way. Instead, focus on what you can improve.
Carry yourself as a role model for teammates and the young people who look up to you.
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.
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 http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610
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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.