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Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater playing for more than himself

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- When the New England Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XLIX, one of the most meaningful conversations that special teams captain Matthew Slater had was with his father, Pro Football Hall of Famer Jackie Slater. The father-son bond has remained strong and football is a big part of it.

In many ways, Slater would like to win a Super Bowl because he knows what it would mean to his father.

"I know my dad, when he looks back on his career, one of his biggest regrets is not winning the big game," Slater said Wednesday. "He played for 20 years and played in just one Super Bowl and then lost. For me to be here, it feels like he’s here again. It means a lot to our family."

Jackie Slater, a dominating offensive tackle, was part of the Los Angeles Rams team that lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-19, in Super Bowl XIV. The Rams had led 19-17 going into the fourth quarter.

“I’ve watched that tape with my dad a dozen times before I was the age of 10 and we’ve talked about them leading in the fourth quarter with 11 minutes to go," Matthew said. " We’ve talked about what went on in that game. He doesn’t need to tell me because I can see it and hear it when he talks about it."

Now in his seventh season with the Patriots, Slater is a perennial Pro Bowler who often is given the responsibility of "breaking the team down" in the locker room after victories. That was a role held by Tedy Bruschi for many years and is only given to the team's most highly-respected players.

Slater, much like his father, is uniquely qualified.

"This game of football has been great to the Slater family. We’re so blessed to be a part of this special game," he said. "It's exciting for both of us that I'm here now."