Bill Belichick must have had a double dose of coffee this morning. Or maybe he’s just in a great mood starting the week after Saturday’s preseason win. Or maybe he’s turned over a new leaf and has completely changed his outlook on life and will forever be a new man.
Whatever it is, he was a real chatterbox on his Monday radio appearance, weighing in with uncharacteristically in-depth answers on a lot of topics.
But the most interesting comment he made wasn’t even the direct answer to a question, and he really didn’t linger on it.
He started naming GOATs when talking about Tom Brady, and one inclusion on the list was a real shocker:
"Tom [Brady], Lawrence Taylor, Matt Slater. That’s the top players at their position — offense, defense, special teams — that I think in the history of the game."
Belichick: Matthew Slater is a GOAT
The Brady pick is obviously no surprise. He’s the GOAT at any position, and clearly on offense. Lawrence Taylor has also long been Belichick’s GOAT on defense, and with the way he’s always talked about LT it wouldn’t surprise me if Bill had Taylor ahead of Brady overall too.
But dropping Matthew Slater as the special teams GOAT, and doing it in such a matter-of-fact way? That’s a spicy one.
Some fans wouldn’t even pick Slater as the Patriots’ special teams GOAT. Adam Vinatieri gets that nod from many fans for all his postseason heroics, and you’d also see some picks for all-time points leader Stephen Gostkowski.
And that’s before we start looking around the league. If you ask a non-pats fan, Devin Hester is probably the first name that pops up. Maybe some Justin Tucker love too.
But that doesn’t mean Bill is wrong. Does it really surprise you that Belichick finds much more value in the unheralded roles that Slater plays than he does in something flashier like a kicker or return man?
There’s a reason Belichick has made sure Slater has remained a Patriot for all 16 of his NFL seasons. There’s a reason Slater has 10 Pro Bowl appearances, two First-Team All-NFL Honors and three Second-Team honors.
Heck, as Slater’s getting older he’s playing an even bigger role. When active, the 37-year-old has been on the field for over 80% of the Patriots’ special teams snaps for each of the last three seasons.
Not many “wide receivers” eclipse $27 million while receiving an average of 1 target every 2 seasons in the NFL.
It’s always been clear that Belichick massively values Slater’s contributions to this franchise, but now it’s crystal clear just how far that appreciation goes.
There’s no doubt that Slater will retire as a career Patriot, and if Belichick has his way we might even get a Slater statue at Gillette.