Along with the apparent demise of the once-dominant New England Patriots, thrilling media members and opposing fans has been the discussion of players possibly regretting extending their time with the team or even signing with them in the first place.
Because the team is used to being atop the league for their success, special teams captain and legend Matthew Slater is beginning to be questioned about his decision to return for another season rather than retire, which he has reportedly been contemplating for a few years now.
He was asked if he regretted his decision to return for a 16th season during a recent appearance on WEEI’s “Jones & Mego,” and his response may not be what most would expect given the position the team is in through six games.
"Absolutely. Look, you never take for granted an opportunity to play the game you love, especially when you’re my age. Obviously, not what I envisioned when I came back — for us to be in this position. But I have no regrets at all and I’m still thankful to be a part of this group, thankful to be working with these guys and hoping we can turn this thing around and finish on a high note."
Despite how miserable some Patriots fans are, which is warranted for the most part, Slater isn't feeling the same. Sure, he's used to making the postseason every year and getting close to if not playing in the Super Bowl. But as one of the best teammates in the history of the franchise, he recognizes his position and that the team has a lot of overcoming to do to get back on track.
He's become a voice of the locker room and a mentor to players beyond special teams. Slater's presence is more valued than outsiders likely realize, so even though the team is not performing up to the standard that he has become accustomed to, he is still able to pass on the knowledge of his career to the next generation of players.
His contributions will be sorely missed when he almost certainly retires at the end of the season, but he will be able to ride off into the sunset with a storied career and the moniker of the best special teams player in NFL history.