Slater receives special praise from Belichick Friday

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Slater receives special praise from Belichick Friday

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick takes pains to equalize his players in the media. Patriots have said their coach does it in practice and meeting rooms as well, but it's flat-out obvious in his press conferences. Ask him to comment on a Tom Brady 500-yard passing performance and Belichick will make sure to lasso the entire offensive line into his answer. 
An exception was made Friday. 
When asked about the work of special teams captain Matt Slater, Belichick unleashed effusive praise. He even invoked the ghost of special teams ace Larry Izzo (a Patriot from 2001 to 2008) as a reference point.   
"In my time here Ive been very fortunate to have two outstanding, I mean exemplary, players at leadership positions on special teams with Larry Izzo and Matt Slater. I thought that really when we had Larry that that was, thered never be another one like that, that that was so rare and Matts different than Larry but I think in his own way equally effective. Matts really, hes tremendous. His attitude, his work ethic, the example that he sets, the way he interacts with his teammates in a really good way. 
"I dont know that a player could do anymore than what hes done for us in that role for the last several years, probably since after his second year. Hes embraced his role on the team, hes been very good at it and he makes other players around him better. I think thats a great compliment to him and the job he does. Hes smart, hes well prepared, he works hard, he has good skill, good talent, hes tough, hes a good playmaker for us. I could go on about him all day. Were lucky to have him on this football team. He does a tremendous job for us." 
Slater was informed later in the locker room of Belichick's compliments. He bowed immediately, reverently, to his predecessor. 
"First things first, I'm no Larry Izzo. Larry was a tremendous player and I can only hope to accomplish the things that he was able to accomplish." 
His humility may stem in part from being selected in the fifth round of 2008's NFL draft. Though he was a First-team All-Pac-10 player and First-team All-American in 2007, Slater does not take New England's choice for granted. 
"It means a lot for me to be a part of this organization and represent this team as a captain of this team. I'm just so thankful -- I thank God every day for the opportunity that I've had to be here. I'm enjoying the ride the whole way and getting an opportunity to play in games like this means a lot, and obviously it means a lot that Coach took a chance on me coming out of school. Not a lot of people would have." 
The fact the Patriots did, Slater believes, has everything to do with the bench boss. 
"I feel like Coach Belichick understands and respects the game of football. And he understands that all three phases are going to help you win. That has been something that's been stressed to me since I got here Day One and understanding that, if you're going to be a championship caliber team, you have to be good in all three phases. I've really tried to just buy into that mentality and do what I can to carry that end of the bargain, pull my weight around here."

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”