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New England Patriots Receiver Discovers Life Outside of Football

Matthew Slater shares how he almost walked away from football and the revelation that his life was bigger than the game. Read Transcript


NARRATOR: New England Patriot's Matthew Slater

is one of the NFL's most respected players.

He's a two time Super Bowl champion

and a six time Pro Bowl.

While those are impressive accomplishments,

Matt says he remembers a time in college when he considered

leaving the sport he loved.

MATTHEW SLATER: I was prepared to transition

away from the game of football, because I

didn't know what my opportunity would be at the next level.

But, I think, through that God kind of showed me--

Hey, you're not Matthew Slater the football player.

You need to understand that your mind, and your purpose,

and calling is higher than that of an athlete.

NARRATOR: Matthew grew up in Orange County, California,

the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer, Jackie Slater.

His mom and dad raised him and his younger brother, David,

with strong Christian values.

Seven years old, I remember my dad

sitting down and kind of laying out the plan for salvation.

Telling me who Jesus was, telling me why I needed him,

and just understanding who I was and who God was.

NARRATOR: Matthew was a standout in football and track

in high school, but by the time he

went to UCLA on a football scholarship,

life was all about him and what he

could do on the football field.

For me, football was really a struggle.

I think, when I went into college, a lot of my identity

was tied up in being a football player, son of a football

player.

INTERVIEWER: Did you ever feel pressure

to live up to his likeness, to live up to his legacy?

Obviously, you play different positions.

You know, I did.

Not from him, though.

I kind of put that pressure on myself

and I think people had expectations.

This is Jackie Slater's son, pro football Hall of Famer

He's supposed to be a certain way,

he's supposed to act a certain way.

His level of play is supposed to be this.

NARRATOR: But when Matthew missed his entire freshman

season and the first three games of his sophomore year because

of injuries, he became angry, because his football career

wasn't going as well as he had planned.

So he asked God for an explanation.

MATTHEW: And I kind of just was like, what am I doing here?

I had these plans, Lord, this is how it was supposed to go

and it's not going that way.

I was asking why, and it really came from a selfish place.

It was, why am I not benefiting personally.

NARRATOR: That's when Matthew considered walking away

from the game, until he realized that the problem was himself.

I think, for me, it was me--

we talk about idols and putting other things--

It was football.

It was my status as an athlete, it was how people viewed me,

it was man pleasing.

NARRATOR: That night, Matthew called his father.

My dad kind of just sharing scripture with me

and talking with me and helping me

see and understand that, hey, it's not about you

all the time, son.

And sometimes the Lord has plans for your life

that you can't even see and understand.

NARRATOR: It was then that he decided to follow

God's purpose for his life.

How did you change after you made the decision

to live wholeheartedly for Christ, what changed?

I think I had a lot of anger and frustration.

I think I was just a little bit more free and at peace

with the Lord's will.

I didn't wrestle with God as much

about this, how I want to do things.

And I think that peace and freedom

was, really, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders

and I just felt like a different person altogether, no question.

NARRATOR: After his senior year, Matthew entered the 2008 NFL

draft, knowing at the end of the day, it was in God's hands

and he was selected in the fifth round by New England.

Since then, he's proved that he's his own man.

One that's not defined by his accomplishments on the field.

When people introduce you, they're

going to say; Ladies and gentlemen, Matthew

Slater, two times Superbowl champion, six time Pro Bowl--

Pro Bowler.

That's the way they're going to introduce you.

How would you describe yourself?

That's a great question.

I'd like to be introduced as Matthew

Slater; a follower of Christ, a husband to Shahrzad,

and father to Jeremiah.

I mean, those are the things that I value most.

I'm proud of what I've accomplished on the football

field, I've been extremely blessed, but it's not who I am.

NARRATOR: Now as a team captain, Matthew

understands the role God has given him

as a leader on the field and in the community.

MATTHEW: I think when you talk about leadership on that team,

I think I'm there to serve.

And I look at leadership and how it was best modeled

was through Jesus Christ.

And he came to serve, he served people.

So as I embrace leadership on the team,

I've always tried to be transparent, and just

serve people.

That's what I really feel like I'm here for.

It's never really been about football.

That's just the byproduct.

I think that it's been about building relationships

and the Lord has put me here to make his name more famous.

I think ultimately, that is my purpose in life.

It is to serve and to point the finger in the direction

of Jesus Christ.

[MUSIC PLAYING AND APPLAUSE]

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