FOXBORO, MASS. — There are few — if any — past or current Patriots players on whom Julian Edelman left a greater impact than Matthew Slater.
The retired receiver developed a close relationship with the Patriots special teams ace over his 12 years in New England. With Edelman set to be honored at Gillette Stadium during halftime of Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints, Slater on Thursday was asked what he misses most about his former teammate.
“His energy,” Slater told reporters. “He brought a unique energy to our locker room. The stamp that he had on our football team was uniquely him, and I don’t think it’ll be duplicated again in any way. I certainly miss that. I miss our conversations about things that happened eight, nine, 10 years ago, and just reminiscing on things like that.
“There are a lot of things that I miss about him. He’s a great teammate to me, great friend over the years. I consider him a brother, but I’m thankful that our relationship goes beyond the game of football.”
Slater also was asked for his general thoughts on Edelman — or “JE11,” as you surely have seen on his Instagram — ahead of the 35-year-old’s big day in Foxboro.
“Yeah, he’s a whole brand now,” a laughing Slater said. ” … I’m so proud of him and everything he accomplished here in New England. Nothing was given to Julian, he had to earn it all. No one worked harder. No one displayed more toughness. No one was more committed to this football team than Julian.
“I think it’s great now that we have fans back in the stadium to have a chance to honor him, honor his accomplishments. Celebrate ‘J-E-11’ and all that he stands for. I’m proud of my brother, we still talk all the time. It’ll be good to have him here back in Foxboro this weekend.”
Edelman and Slater actually spent time together as roommates, creating memories both look upon fondly.
So, how was that experience for Slater?
“Julian and I are very different people,” he said. ” … Two guys that love the game of football. Two guys that are very frugal. … Just two guys that really enjoy one another’s company. I’m very appreciative of the time that we spent together. Those are some pivotal, formative years for me, and I’m appreciative of the influence that he had on me professionally personally.”
Slater, however, made sure to sneak in this jab:
“Longest four years of my life.”