New England Patriots

Emotional Matthew Slater reflects on what might've been his final game

If this is it for Slater, he had an amazing career with the Patriots.

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Matthew Slater might have just played his final game for the New England Patriots.

The 16-year veteran and longtime team captain walked off the field after the Patriots' 17-3 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday waving to fans, giving fist bumps and taking in the cheers and well wishes from people in attendance at Gillette Stadium.

Slater was asked in his postgame press conference if he plans to retire. He declined to give a definitive answer and said he would announce his decision at a different time.

“Let’s talk about that another day," Slater said in his postgame press conference. "Just want to express my thanks to those guys in the locker room today. Very appreciative of all the love and support that I’ve received this whole season, and certainly today and this week. I’m just proud to be a part of that group. Even though the season was what it was, to come in and be able to work with those guys really meant a lot to me."

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Patriots players and team employees wore special Slater-themed hoodies before the game to honor the longtime special teams star. Slater was touched by this gesture.

"It meant a lot," an emotional Slater said. "It meant a lot. I was blown away by it. I never wanted anything about my experience here to be about me, so it did make me a little bit uncomfortable, but to have the guys do that, I'll never be able to put that into words as long as I live. It meant a lot to me."

Slater is one of the best special teams players in NFL history, and it wouldn't be surprising if he was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame -- and maybe even the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- at some point. He also has been one of the best leaders and captains in franchise history. The level of respect Slater's teammates and opponents have for him is immense.

Slater is the Patriots' lone remaining player from their last three Super Bowl-winning teams. If he does retire in the offseason, it will truly be the end of an era.

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