New England Patriots

Is Matthew Slater a Hall of Famer? Ex-Patriot has one powerful advocate

Could Bill Belichick aid Slater's push for Canton?

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Matthew Slater retired Tuesday as arguably the greatest player ever at his position. Will that be enough to earn him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

The former New England Patriots special teamer boasts an impressive resume, with 10 Pro Bowl nods, five First-Team All-Pro selections, three Second-Team All-Pro honors and three Super Bowl titles. Only San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams has made more Pro Bowls than Slater since 2011.

Working against Slater, though, is that all of those accolades came on special teams as a gunner and coverage man. The 38-year-old officially was listed as a wide receiver yet caught just one pass (a 46-yarder in 2011) over his 16-year career. Only three full-time specialists are in the Hall of Fame -- kickers Morten Andersen and Jan Stenerud and punter Ray Guy -- and none played Slater's position.

So, would the HOF Selection Committee view Slater's contributions as valuable enough to make him the first non-kicking core special teamer in Canton? That remains to be seen, but Slater got a very strong endorsement from a future Hall of Famer on Tuesday.

"Matthew Slater deserves every accolade someone could receive," former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday in a statement, via ESPN's Adam Schefter. "He is a once in a lifetime person, and the best core special teams player in NFL history. His daily, weekly, and yearly work ethic, paved the way for his unsurpassed performance.

"Matthew is the finest example of what an intense competitor and human being should be. He has been a great role model for the teams players & coaches) that I have coached. Matthew is exceedingly kind, and supremely loved and respected by all his peers. I am one of many who feel incredibly blessed to be his teammate, coach, and friend."

Belichick, who selected Slater in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft and coached him for 16 seasons, advocated for the 38-year-old to make the Hall late last season.

“I think Slater really is eventually going to be a Hall of Fame candidate,” Belichick told reporters on Dec. 29. “As a coverage player, not as a specialist and he’s not a returner. So, he’s in a very unique category, one that I don’t think is represented in the Hall of Fame.

"But based on what he did during his career, the length of time he did it, and the level he’s done it at … I would say this guy has been as productive as anybody has ever been at his position throughout his entire career, which is very lengthy. I think he’s the best that’s ever done what he’s done.”

Belichick currently isn't on the Selection Committee, which consists of one media representative from each team's city and 17 "at large" representatives who are "active members of the media or persons intricately involved in professional football." But if Belichick pursues a career in media after coaching -- many believe he'll work in media this upcoming season after failing to land a head coaching job -- it's very possible he could work his way onto the Selection Committee given his wealth of knowledge about NFL history.

If Belichick does land on the Selection Committee, don't be surprised if Slater gets his vote when the special teamer first becomes eligible in 2029.

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