Bill Belichick ‘Proud’ Patriots Seven Pro Bowlers Were Homegrown Players

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December 23, 2015

FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Belichick the general manager had a solid Tuesday night.

Belichick drafted six of the New England Patriots’ seven Pro Bowl selections, and their seventh was Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler, who was signed by the team as an undrafted free agent.

“I’m proud of the fact that all seven of those players are homegrown,” Belichick said Wednesday. “They all came in as Patriots, spent their whole career here as Patriots, developed as Patriots in different — one way or another, but that’s what they all are. I think there’s something to be said for that.”

Belichick would later downplay the Pro Bowl, but he took a rare moment to highlight the individual honor.

“It’s great for the players who are recognized,” Belichick said. “All of those — the players that were recognized were deserving. All had good years. There’s other guys on the team who have had good years, too. That’s kind of the way it always is. …

“Slater, five Pro Bowls, father (Jackie Slater) had (seven) Pro Bowls. That’s pretty special. No one else has done that. Matthews, the clan is still going. I had Clay (Jr.). That’s kind of — as an aside — kind of a special thing.”

Belichick noted the Patriots’ Pro Bowl selection are balanced. Quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski represent the offense, defensive end Chandler Jones, linebacker Jamie Collins and cornerback Malcolm Butler are on defense and kicker Stephen Gostkowski and Matthew Slater are special teams players.

Belichick wouldn’t glorify the selections too much, however.

“I mean, look, it is what it is,” Belichick said. “Don’t make this into more than it is. I think we all know what the process is, and who’s actually making the decisions here, and based on what. All that aside, all those guys had good years. They’re all good players. We have other good players on our team that weren’t recognized, but that’s the way it always is. I’m sure every team feels the same way.

“It doesn’t take anything away from what those guys did and I’m happy for them, but I don’t think that’s why them or myself are involved in that — players of the year, coach of the year, All Pro. I don’t think that’s what any of us are here for, so if it comes, it’s great, but that’s not our top priority.”

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with defensive end Chandler Jones (95) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) after throwing a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
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