Patriots Notes: Junior Seau’s Memory Lives On In New England Locker Room

FOXBORO, Mass. — Some leftover notes and nuggets from Thursday’s New England Patriots media availability at Gillette Stadium:

— “Seau,” a “30 for 30” documentary on deceased Pro Football Hall of Famer Junior Seau, premiered Thursday on ESPN’s streaming service, ESPN+.

After stints with the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins, Seau finished his career in New England, playing four seasons with the Patriots from 2006 until his retirement in January 2010.

Just six current Patriots players overlapped with Seau in Foxboro: quarterbacks Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer, wide receiver Julian Edelman, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, safety Patrick Chung and special teamer Matthew Slater.

Slater, a Southern California native, has particularly strong memories of the former linebacker, who played his college ball at USC.

“Growing up in Southern California, he was an icon,” Slater said. “And for me to have an opportunity to play with him early on in my career was very surreal. I think of Junior often. I think of the experience I had with him, so I’ll definitely have to check (the documentary) out.”

Slater remembers Seau’s “larger-than-life personality,” which “made everyone feel like they were his best friend.”

“For a guy who accomplished so much over the course of his career, it seemed as though it didn’t change who he was,” Slater said. “He was just a kind, gentle soul, and I was very thankful to have our paths cross.”

He added: “His passion for the game of football was unmatched. He loved this game.”

Slater and Seau also shared another unique bond: Seau played against Slater’s father, Jackie, during the Hall of Fame offensive tackle’s 20-year career with the Los Angeles Rams.

“I came up (to Seau on his first day with the Patriots),” said Slater, who was a fifth-round draft pick in 2008. “‘Mr. Seau, I’m Matthew Slater.’ And he was like, ‘Hey, buddy, how’re you doing? How’s your dad doing?’ It’s pretty crazy to think that he played against my dad and then I played with him. But, man, it’s something that I’ll never forget.”

Seau committed suicide in 2012. Doctors later concluded he suffered from CTE.

— Here’s a crazy stat: With the addition of Josh Gordon this week, the Patriots now have signed or traded for a whopping 17 players that spent at least part of the 2013 season with the Cleveland Browns.

Here’s the full list:

WR Josh Gordon
QB Brian Hoyer
CB Johnson Bademosi
RB Dion Lewis
WR Brian Tyms
WR Perez Ashford
WR Reggie Dunn
OL Keavon Milton
OL Braxston Cave
OL Caylin Hauptmann
DE Jabaal Sheard
DE Cam Henderson
DT John Hughes
DT Ishmaa’ily Kitchen
LB Eric Martin
LB Barkevious Mingo
LS Christian Yount

We first wrote about this odd trend two years ago, noting that former Patriots executive Michael Lombardi was the Browns’ general manager in 2013. Since then, the Patriots have added Gordon, Hoyer and Bademosi (now with the Houston Texans).

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images

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