Matthew Slater became a fan favorite during his 16-year career with the New England Patriots.

Not only because of the success Slater had between the lines, he became arguably the best special teams player in the history of the game, but also because of his team-first mentality and thoughtfulness off the gridiron.

With Slater officially announcing his retirement Tuesday, he shared a message for New England supporters.

“Pats Nation, it has been an honor to represent the silver, red, white and blue for 16 years,” Slater wrote in a retirement letter shared by the Patriots. “Thank you for cheering, challenging and supporting our team each and every year. To the people of New England, thank you for welcoming my family and me into your community and allowing us to call New England home. We are beyond humbled and blessed.

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“You the fans make an NFL player’s experience what it is. Thank you for supporting not only me but our great game.”

Slater also shared gratitude for his family, teammates and coaches, specifically including Bill Belichick, along with the Kraft family and Patriots organization.

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“To the Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization: Thank you for your continued support and belief,” he wrote. “Thank you for always treating me and my family like your family. I truly believe I have been a part of the best organization in all of pro sports.”

You can read Slater’s letter in its entirety here.

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Slater played all 16 of his NFL seasons in New England. After being selected in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, his legendary career included 10 Pro Bowl selections and he was named a two-time First Team All-Pro.

Featured image via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images