Thought it would be nice to bring back one of my favorite features from years past that for some reason I'd abandoned last year: Getting to know. It's always enjoyable asking players non-football questions, and passing on their answers, so we can all learn a little more about them off the field. There will be a new one every Sunday during the season.
During training camp, Matthew Slater brought up probably his lowest moment as a Patriot: his rookie season, New England at Pittsburgh, about 5:40 left in the third quarter. The Steelers had just scored a field goal to take a 13-10 lead, but Slater fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, the Steelers recovered and scored two plays later, and the game's momentum swung completely in their favor as they went on to a 33-10 win.
It has been nearly six years since that night. Slater is now a two-time Pro Bowler, one of the best special teams players in the NFL, and one of the most respected players in the New England locker room. His professionalism, quiet strength and spirituality have led to him being named a team captain twice, and it would be a surprise if he isn't announced as a captain again for this season.
A few weeks ago, he was surprised when the team announced him as its Ron Burton Community Service Award winner for the hours he spends attending charity events. In his understated way, he said his parents, Jackie and Annie, always taught him that to whom much is given, much is expected, and he is simply trying to heed those words. Slater sent the award to his parents in California.
Favorite meal: Fried pork chops, collard greens and mashed sweet potatoes. That is my mother’s specialty. I haven’t had it in a long time. And with [team nutritionist] Ted Harper around here, I don’t know when I’ll be able to have it again (laughs).
First car: First car I ever had was the car I got when I was here, actually. Until then I was driving one of my parents’ cars or whatever was available. Let’s just say it was an SUV that I got when I was here. Yes it was (his first "grown-up" purchase).
First job: I was a camp counselor for Vince Ferragamo Football Camp in Southern California, so that was the first job I had. I did (get paid). I was in high school just running drills and working with kids; it was a lot of fun. Hall of Fame left tackle Jackie Slater was teammates with Ferragamo on the Los Angeles Rams for seven years.
If they made a movie about your life... What kind of story? I think it would be a little bit of a drama, a tale of overcoming, a feel-good story I guess, a feel good story. And then I’d have to go with Denzel (Washington). I like Forrest Whitaker, but I’d have to go with Denzel.
Place you want to visit that you haven't yet: Portugal. I’ve heard a lot of nice things about Portugal from people who have been there. I think – a lot of places outside the country that I’ve never had a chance to.
Favorite TV show: "Chopped" on Food Network. I can’t cook a lick, but it’s fun to watch people who can. All these random ingredients that don’t seem like they would go at all, but they come out looking pretty good.