FOXBORO – Matthew Slater is the two-time special teams captain of the New England Patriots. He's also a two-time special team Pro Bowler.
During Tuesday night's award ceremony on the field of Gillette Stadium, Slater became the 11th player to receive the New England Patriots Ron Burton Community Service Award.
Slater joins a select group of Patriots players to receive the Ron Burton Award. Past recipients are Joe Andruzzi (2003), Troy Brown (2004), Matt Light (2005), Jarvis Green (2006), Ty Warren (2007), Larry Izzo (2008), Kevin Faulk (2009), Vince Wilfork (2010), Jerod Mayo (2011) and Zoltan Mesko (2012).
Patriots owner Robert Kraft presented Slater with the award, which is named in honor of the late Ron Burton, the first player drafted by the team. Burton spent his life as a community leader whose widespread charitable work was a model for how a Patriots player can make an impact off the field.
“We knew the day that we drafted Matthew that he was going to be special,” said Kraft. “He has contributed on offense, defense and is the captain of our special teams. He is consistently one of the most active players in the community and is always eager to volunteer.
"Matthew has an engaging personality and is generous with time to help our community,” Kraft said.
Slater is entering his sixth NFL season after joining the Patriots in 2008 as a fifth-round draft pick out of UCLA.
Slater was selected as a special teams captain by his teammates in 2011 and 2012 and was named to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player both seasons. He led the team with 20 special teams tackles in 2012, one behind his career-high of 21 special teams tackles in 2010. Slater has led the Patriots in special teams tackles for the past three seasons.
Slater has also shown his versatility, playing at wide receiver and safety as well as playing a major role on special teams.
Slater is one of the team’s most active community participants. In five seasons as a Patriot, he has regularly participated in the team’s community Tuesday events (the players’ only off day each week). Last season, he was an ambassador during the team’s Celebrate Volunteerism campaign, making visits with teammates to recognize deserving volunteers in conjunction with each week’s volunteerism theme.
Slater makes regular school visits, participating in the Play 60 initiatives and at each of the Patriots Holiday events. This past spring, he was one of the dozens of players to travel to Newtown, Conn. to lead the organization’s Football for You football clinic in a town recovering from a horrible tragedy.
Kevin Saleeba is the senior editor and columnist for Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinSaleeba