Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman are a perfect example of how opposites attract. Slater has made a name in the NFL from his steady and calm demeanor. Edelman is a firecracker with an energy that is equal parts perpetual "chip-on-his-shoulder" and mischief. Edelman is a king of social media. Slater doesn't have a single profile.
Despite this, the two California kids formed what is clearly a special bond as roommates early in their Patriots days. Years have passed since then, but with Edelman's career being celebrate during a halftime ceremony on Sunday, it was a perfect time to stroll down memory lane.
Even though Slater jokingly said it was the "longest four years" of his life living with Edelman, there is still a lot of love there, even as their careers diverge.
"For people that know me and know him, they know we are very different. They always ask, how did that work? But I think there are two guys that love the game of football. Two guys that were very frugal, and wanted to save their duckets. And they're two guys that really enjoy one another's company," Slater said. "I'm appreciative of the time that we spent together. Those are some pivotal, formative years for me, and I'm appreciative of the influence that he had on me professionally and personally. Like I said, our relationship will go well beyond the game."
In a press conference that ran for more than 30 minutes on Thursday, Edelman reflected on his time as a Patriot. One of those highlights? His time as Slater's roommate.
"That was some of the best times of my career in New England, and to be able to live with Matthew and to share those years with him, I honestly feel that I wouldn't be where I'm at if I didn't have Matthew in my life," Edelman said. "Watching him as a young professional at that time, as a family member that time, as a man off the field that time, he was a great role model for me. The love that just shined off of him."
Before the Super Bowl rings, the on-the-field accolades, the dynasty, they were just young men trying to realize their dream of playing in the NFL. They clawed their way into roster positions. It can be a lonely thing to chase a dream in a business as competitive as the NFL, but for Slater and Edelman, they had each other.
"It's a grind you know we were two young guys on the fence ... It was during a young time where you could come home and it was like great to come home to Slate because then we had have like eggnog talk time and like state the unions and all these awesome conversations. It helped me get through tough times. I agree with Matthew. I would never change it for anything I love him. He's a brother."
For the first time in over a decade, Slater will know a team without Edelman. Seeing him walk away from the game may be bittersweet, but for Slater, who saw him up close as he built a legacy, the primary feeling is pride.
"I'm so proud of him and everything that he accomplished here in New England. Nothing was given to Julian. He had to earn it all," Slater said. "No one worked harder. No one displayed more toughness. No one was more committed to this football team than Julian. I think it's great now that we have fans back in the stadium for have a chance to honor him, honor his accomplishments. Celebrate JE11 and all that he stands for. I'm proud of my brother."