Talk of Fame Network
Jackie Slater is more than a Hall-of-Fame tackle who played 20 seasons with the Rams. He’s a Hall-of-Fame father, too, with son Matthew a star special-teams player with the New England Patriots.
So it’s on Father’s Day that we recognize Dad for helping to raise a young man who is as good – if not better – an individual off the field than he is on it and who was smart enough to know when not to listen to Dad — essentially, when Father didn’t know best.
That’s going to require an explanation, and we’re only too happy to provide one. You see, Matthew was a star athlete in high school who excelled in track and field, baseball, basketball and, of course, football, and who was told that maybe, just maybe, he should stick to something, anything, other than … football.
“I did everything to discourage the football end of sports,” Jackie Slater said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “but he just kept gravitating back toward it. Basketball he played. Soccer he played. (But) those sports just weren’t exciting enough for him. He liked a lot of action.”
Wait a minute … discourage him from playing football, a career that put Dad in the Hall of Fame?
“I just didn’t think he was big enough,” Jackie said. “When I was 13 years old I was six feet tall and I weighed 245. And I was wearing a size-42 in the waist and a 32 in the inseam. He wasn’t headed in that direction at all (Matthew was a champion sprinter in high school), and I’ve always seen football as a big man’s game; always felt a big man is better than a good little man.
“So I didn’t think he was going to be able to fit in, and I certainly wasn’t oing to be able to help him as a little guy because I didn’t know anything about what he was doing. So it was just kind of my deal to discourage him and encourage him in a different direction.”
Good thing Matthew didn’t listen. He’s gone to the last five Pro Bowls, is a three-time All-Pro and is captain of the New England Patriots’ special teams.
“If you had told me I’d be watching that young man do some of the things he’s doing,” Dad said, “I never would’ve believed it.
“The young man has been playing eight years now – he’s gone to the last five Pro Bowls – and he says, ‘Dad, I don’t have a limit as to how long I want to play; I want to play as long as I can, as long as I’m having fun, as long as I’m healthy.’
“And when I hear that I can’t say, ‘Well, you can’t do that (or) you’re not going to do that.’ I just think of myself and know how I felt at the time. But then I always think and pray and ask the good Lord to keep him safe and that he’ll have fun, and he won’t be so bad off when he’s done.”