ESPN Network: ESPN.com | NBA.com | NHL.com | WNBA.com | ABCSports | EXPN | INSIDER | FANTASY   
NFL Hall of Fame

ALSO SEE
Meet the Hall of Fame Class of 2001

Slater blocks his way to Canton




AUDIO/VIDEO

Class of 2001
Offensive tackle Jackie Slater is grateful the selection committee recognized his efforts.
avi: 1470 k
Real: 56.6 | ISDN
Cable Modem


Words of wisdom
Jackie Slater shares with us the words he has lived by for the past twenty years.
wav: 149 k Real: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6



Monday, August 6, 2001
Matchup with Reggie White made Slater a star
Associated Press

One game is all former Los Angeles Rams coach John Robinson needed to sum up Jackie Slater's 20-year NFL career.

Slater, Robinson's right tackle, had the toughest assignment on the field in the 1989 NFC wild-card playoffs -- blocking Reggie White.

Grabbing and pushing the quicker White, Slater -- known more as dominant run blocker -- held his ground against the NFL's top pass rusher. White had only four tackles and one sack as his Philadelphia Eagles fell 21-7.

I wasn't always physically dominant, but I strived for perfection. I think I put relentless pressure on my opponent. He clearly could have dominated the game, and that didn't happen.
Jackie Slater

Robinson credited Slater with the victory -- and much more.

"He was so much of a leader in the way he went about his craft that people began to use him as a role model. I certainly did," said Robinson, the Rams' coach from 1983-91. "Within our own team, he was the guy that everybody admired."

Slater, who played his entire career with the Rams, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday with six other players, including former teammate Jack Youngblood and Pittsburgh receiver Lynn Swann. Swann's Steelers beat Slater's Rams 31-19 in Super Bowl XIV.

Besides that Super Bowl, Slater said his wild-card matchup with "The Minister of Defense" is what he remembers most.

Stronger and quicker than most offensive tackles, White couldn't get by Slater, deceptively limber for 6-foot-4 and 277 pounds.

"I wasn't always physically dominant, but I strived for perfection," Slater said. "I think I put relentless pressure on my opponent. He clearly could have dominated the game, and that didn't happen."

Robinson said that's because Slater loved to practice. He used each workout to get better.

"He's a man's man in terms of willing to do the hard things in order to be successful," said Robinson, who will introduce Slater at the Hall induction. "Reggie dominated everybody that year. Jackie was very imaginative in his plan. He used every kind of trick and skill you could use on a guy. He kept Reggie off balance."

A third-round draft pick from Jackson State, Slater began his career in 1976, but didn't become a starter until his fourth season, which ended with his only Super Bowl appearance.

Robinson said most NFL fans hadn't heard of Slater until his matchup with White, which CBS made the focus of its television coverage that day.

"He had really good size and all that, but the skills that got him in the Hall of Fame he had to work to develop," Robinson said. "It almost seemed to be that he willed his way into greatness."

Slater played in seven Pro Bowls, including in 1991 following his 16th season in the league, and blocked for seven different 1,000-yard rushers, including fellow Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson.

The late Walter Payton, the NFL's career leading rusher, once said of Slater: "Of all the people I played with or against, he'd be one of the first three I'd pick if I were starting a team."

At the time of his retirement in 1995, Slater had played in more regular-season games (259) than any other offensive lineman. He holds Rams records for most seasons (20), regular-season games and postseason games (18).

"I think the thing I'm most proud of is the quality of my work," Slater said. "I always played at the top level of my game."

He spent 19 seasons in Los Angeles, one in St. Louis and along the way blocked for three generations of players, from Joe Namath to Dickerson to Jerome Bettis.

"It's hard not to forget 'em," Slater said. "They all had their different idiosyncrasies."





ESPN.com: Help | Advertiser Info | Contact Us | Tools | Site Map | Jobs at ESPN.com
Copyright ©2000 ESPN Internet Ventures. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information are applicable to this site.