The New England Patriots will soon lose wide receiver and special teams ace Matthew Slater to a holy calling.
That's right: Slater's plans after football will likely see the 10-year pro become a priest. ESPN's Mike Reiss asked the UCLA product about his plans after retirement, which we all can reasonably assume is fast-approaching:
“I’ve always had a passion for the ministry. [Those who have] covered me for a while now know how important my faith is to me. That’s something I’ve always wanted to pursue,” he said. “Understanding that football has never been a guarantee for me, it’s something I’ve always been prepared to move on and do. I have a passion for working with people, especially with children... whether it’s here, back in California, or wherever we end up as a family.”
Slater and his wife Shahrzad are expecting their second child.
The 32-year-old grinder also shed light on how much longer he expects to be an employed member of the National Football League:
“Right now, I feel good. The Lord has blessed me with some good health," Slater said. "I still really enjoy the process of preparation and the competition. And Coach Belichick still has me on his roster. As long as those three things are going, I’ll do it as long as the Lord is going to have me do it, and I know I can leave the game with peace of mind, whenever it is, for the opportunities I’ve had here, the experience I’ve had, the friendships I’ve made. I feel like I’m still living the dream and trying to enjoy it one day at a time.”
Reiss wasn't done there with his reporting on Slater, though. Apparently the receiver has taken Northwestern rookie Austin Carr under his wing:
"Shortly after signing with the team, the 23-year-old Carr had explained how he connected with Slater on and off the field. Carr said Slater’s name had been mentioned in team meetings as a good example to follow, and that Slater then went out of his way to embrace him. “We share the same faith background as well and are part of the Christian community. He’s going to help me and my fiance get embedded with that,” said Carr."
In nine seasons with the Patriots, Slater has caught one pass for 46 yards. Not a bad average. His real value comes in his 127 career tackles.