FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – At Tuesday evening's Patriots Premiere on the field at Gillette Stadium, two-time team captain and two-time Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater became the 11th player to receive the New England Patriots Ron Burton Community Service Award.
Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft presented Slater with the award, which is named in honor of the late Ron Burton, the first player drafted by the team and 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."
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 in each of those 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. During his time in the NFL, Slater has proven to be a versatile player, seeing action at wide receiver and safety as well as playing a major role on special teams.
Slater immediately became 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 is a regular at 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.
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).