Tom Brady’s New England departure was a tough pill to swallow for the Patriots community, even for season veterans.

As Brady helped New England win Super Bowl after Super Bowl, it was tough to imagine the legendary quarterback in any other uniform. But in March 2020, Brady closed the book on his 20-year Patriots tenure and bolted for Tampa Bay as a free agent.

Matthew Slater was loading up for his 13th NFL season at that juncture, so the special teams ace was more than familiar with the business side of football. But even with that vast understanding, it was tough for Slater to shake the human element.

“It was hard,” Slater told FOX Sports of Brady’s exit. “I think I processed it in my own way. You know, I was happy for him, obviously. But I was a little pissed, like, ‘Hey, man, this is our guy and our guy’s going to a different team.’ But you know, that’s the nature of the business. Those thoughts quickly faded away. I was happy for him.”

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The jump to the Buccaneers proved to be a wise move for Brady, who claimed another Lombardi Trophy in his first season with Tampa Bay and helped the franchise earn a playoff berth the next two campaigns. The Patriots, meanwhile, only made the playoffs once across their first three post-Brady seasons.

Brady and Slater are set to reunite Sunday when the future Hall of Fame signal-caller returns to Foxboro, Mass. to be honored by his former team. Slater surely will be excited to see his former teammate, but the longtime Patriots captain’s focus will be on helping New England try to beat the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium.

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