FOX -- Sometimes, the role Matthew Slater plays for the Patriots is least important on Sundays.
He is a captain. And he's one of those athletes who didn't just accept the title and say thank you, but who donned it like a mantle. He understands the weight of his words and deeds, and isn't afraid to wield them with a purpose.
This week, still early in the offseason, his influence was invoked by Bill Belichick.
A team meeting was held after Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon. The attack occurred on the first day of New England's offseason program and Belichick asked Slater to speak in its wake.
He shared a few key notes with reporters on Thursday.
"I just want to let people know out there know affected by that event that were injured, or had somebody they knew injured, or killed, or are still battling for their lives, or had to witness that traumatic event, that we're praying for them. I don't think there's ever been a time that I've been more proud of this city, this region, with the way people have responded to that tragedy. I'm just proud to be associated with the people of New England and the people of Boston."
"There are things in life more important in football and this is one of those events that puts that in perspective," the special teamer said. "I think we take so many things for granted; we expect to wake up, we expect to go about our day and be safe, and return home at the end of the day. But every day that we get up, anything can happen. I think we need to be counting our blessings every night that we get home safely - it's a blessing. And every morning that we wake up is a blessing. I think that reminder has been sent to the locker room. We just need to value our friends, family, and time we have on this earth."
Such was the message he bestowed to teammates. No doubt, it was clearly received. Slater is an eloquent speaker, a genuine It's why his teammates chose him as a leader, and why Belichick turned to him on Tuesday.
"Like I said, we take so much for granted. Especially in our profession. We've been blessed, every one of us, every man that's in that locker room. Every player, coach, staff - we're very blessed to do what we do. We live, sort of a life of... I don't want to say 'privilege', but it is. We're very privileged to do what we do. So it's about us not taking things for granted. It's about us valuing the life that we have, the life that our families have."
"In the big picture, that's much more important than what goes on on the field."