FOXBORO, Mass. — Matthew Slater is a nine-year veteran, six-time captain, five-time Pro Bowl selection and is one of, if not the most respected player on the New England Patriots. That was evident based on attendance at his Matthew vs. Matthew charity event Tuesday night.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman, offensive linemen David Andrews, Marcus Cannon, Nate Solder and Chris Barker, defensive linemen Alan Branch, Geneo Grissom, Chris Long and Rob Ninkovich, linebacker Shea McClellin and defensive backs Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty, Jordan Richards, Eric Rowe and Logan Ryan were among the Patriots players spotted at Slater’s charity event at Splitsville in Patriot Place. Proceeds of the event, which was $75 a head, benefit Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization helping with crisis, disaster and victim response of Hurricane Matthew.
Slater gave credit to his wife Shahrzad for coming up with the idea for the event.
?We?re just trying to continue to assist the efforts,” Slater said. “When you see and read what?s going on (in Haiti and the Carolina?s), it?s truly tragic. The poorest country in the western hemisphere, everything they?ve had to endure the last decade, it?s really heart-breaking. Hopefully what we?re able to do here tonight can put a little dent in something down there. Even if it helps one family, it was worth it in our eyes.?
Long and Slater both have fathers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — defensive lineman Howie Long and offensive tackle Jackie Slater. Long joined the Patriots as a free agent this offseason and already ranks Slater among his all-time teammates.
“He’s always putting the team first,” Long said. “He’s just a guy you can go talk to for advice. For a new guy, he’s helped me a lot.”
Tuesday was an off-day for the Patriots, but many still reported to Gillette Stadium and came straight from the facility to the event held in the shopping plaza adjacent to the field.
“It always helps that it’s basically at work,” McCourty said. “Slate’s a guy in the locker room everyone wants to be like.”
Slater, Ninkovich, McCourty, Harmon and Edelman held a Q&A with WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton, which brought plenty of laughs.
Here are some highlights from that portion of the night:
Slater introduced Edelman as: “My dear friend, my roommate, my nephew, my little brother. I love this guy.”
Edelman on Slater: “I’ve learned so much from him just in life skills. He’s a man of God, his family’s a very loving family, he’s unbelievable, and it’s an honor to be here. You can ask any of these guys up here. If you want to talk to anyone about anything, that’s Matthew Slater.”
Ninkovich on his most embarrassing moment on the field: “My first year here … I was really scared to go out there and make a mistake, so we’re out there, I thought I ran the right play, I came off the field to the sideline, and Bill runs up to me screaming, ‘What are you doing?’ And he said a few words I can’t say right now. I said instantly a play that I ran in college off the top of my head, and I said like, off something, and he was like, ‘We don’t even have that … ‘word’ play. And I just looked at him and didn’t know what to say because I was scared. Fast forward the next day, and I actually did the right thing but I didn’t know the play.”
Slater on what he’s learned from his father: “He has something that he tells me before every game, and it’s simple, it’s ‘take care of your business.’ And over the years, I’ve learned that means do everything you can in your power to prepare yourself to play well on Sundays. My dad always taught me that proper preparation can prevent poor performance. … I’d like to think I’ve learned a great work ethic from my father. That’s the one thing that he prided himself on that allowed him to play football until he was 41 years old. I don’t know if I’m playing until I’m 41. I can assure you I’m not playing until I’m 41.”
Ninkovich on which player you have to watch your back around in the locker room: “Chris Long. That guy, he’ll go to many lengths to get someone. On the bus ride home … I look over at his seat, and I see (McCourty’s) face, like (Long’s) Google searching Dev. Chris Long, he’s looking for pictures. I’m like, ‘What are you looking for?’ He’s like, ‘Just a messed-up picture.’ I’m like, ‘All right, cool.’ He’s got something going right now, I can’t explain it to everybody, but he’s always thinking of something.”
McCourty: “Have you seen ‘Step Brothers’? That’s (Ninkovich) and Chris.”
Edelman on Rob Gronkowski: “You go out to dinner with this guy, and he’s 6-foot-7, 280 pounds, and you think that he would eat everything on the table, but he’ll sit and count, you can tell he’s counting his calories and what he can eat and what he can’t eat on his plate. He’s very disciplined. He’s always working hard, he always lifts weight. He’s a big kid at heart, but he’s very disciplined, but he doesn’t have the portrayal of being the party boy all the time. He actually works hard.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images