Sports Q: Will Matthew Slater make the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Debate the answer with Chad Finn and Boston sports fans at The Sports Q.

Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots pursues Dontrell Hilliard of the Cleveland Browns.
Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots pursues Dontrell Hilliard of the Cleveland Browns. –Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through TwitterFacebook, and email. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.  

I saw in your column that you wrote about Matthew Slater’s Hall of Fame chances. Doesn’t he have to get in, not only because he’s probably the best special teams player of all-time, but also because they’re going to have to take several players from the dynasty? – Glen B.

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That’s one way of looking at it, Glen. I think in the early going the Patriots dynasty will be underrepresented in Canton. They’re going to win at least six Lombardi Trophies in 20 years. There has been no other dynasty like it, especially when you take into consideration that it has happened during free agency.

And yet who is a lock from this entire era? Tom Brady, of course. Adam Vinatieri. Randy Moss, though he’s probably more often thought of as a Viking. Ty Law is already in.

Then who else? Richard Seymour probably gets in, and should. Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison (who should already be in) and Corey Dillon were among the 122 modern-era nominees this past year, but only Harrison seems to receive serious consideration. Logan Mankins has a case, but he never played on a Super Bowl winner. Matt Light? Devin McCourty? Stephon Gilmore?

I think this lack of clarity actually helps Slater. He’s made the Pro Bowl seven times, and embodies the Patriots’ commitment to the often overlooked third phase of football, special teams. He has enough highlight reel plays, such as Sunday’s blocked punt or the blocked punt he returned for a touchdown earlier this season against the Bills, to make a compelling highlight film.

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I don’t know if this is part of his case, but it’s remarkable and must be acknowledged: How is he still the first guy down the field almost every play despite being 34 and carrying the reputation of the Patriots you absolutely must block?

The Hall of Fame voters tend to neglect special teams players, and it might require someone like Steve Tasker getting in to open the door for Slater.  But he deserves it. And they’re going to have to put in more Patriots than they realize right now. The dynasty Steelers had 9 Hall of Fame players (Bradshaw, Swann, Stallworth, Harris, Webster, Greene Ham, Lambert, Blount) plus owner Art Rooney and coach Chuck Noll. And they could have two more in end L.C. Greenwood and safety Donnie Shell.

The Patriots of this era should have at least nine. And Slater should be one of them.

But what does everyone else think? Will Matthew Slater make the Pro Football Hall of Fame? I’ll hear you in the comments.

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