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Patriots coaches and teammates, past and present, react to Matthew Slater's retirement

Longtime New England Patriots captain Matthew Slater announced his retirement Tuesday,  sparking an outpouring of gratitude and support from those who coached him or suited up with him over the years.

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There will never be another Matthew Slater.

That's never been more evident than Tuesday, when the 16-year veteran announced his retirement from the NFL.

The longtime New England Patriots captain made a name for himself in the league as one of the best special teams gunners in history, earning 10 Pro Bowl nods and three Super Bowls along the way. As much as he impacted that third phase of the game, he perhaps had just as much influence off the field as a mentor, leader, and philanthropist.

Fans came out in droves for what ended up being his final game, despite freezing temperatures and almost a foot of snow hitting Foxborough for the Week 18 matchup, just to say thank you.

His Patriots teammates, past and present, took that same opportunity on social media after news broke.

Here was some of their reaction:

Tom Brady: "A true champion. The best teammate and an even better man. Congratulations on the perfect career."

Rob Gronkowski: "Love you Slate!! Best to do it!! A true Pro!!"

Devin McCourty: "The greatest... salute to the 🐐🐐🐐."

David Andrews:"Such an inspiration in my career and my personal life. Thank you!"

Matthew Judon:"1 of 1"

Jason McCourty: "Happy to have played alongside Slate! Blessed to call him a friend!"

Julian Edelman: "THE Patriot. We always talk about the Patriot way. But Slater lived it. He picked me up when I needed it, and challenged me when I needed it. Without him I wouldn't have been half the player or half the man I am today. Congrats on the HOF career Slate. Love you bubs. #Captain"

Jonathan Jones: "My brother, my mentor, my friend. Enjoy the otherside."

Sebastian Vollmer: "A true blessing to call you a friend and teammate! One of the best who has ever done it."

James White: "The standard! It was an honor!"

Ja'Whaun Bentley: "LEGENDARY 🐐🐐"

Brenden Schooler: "Thank you, Matthew. Thank you for everything."

Kendrick Bourne: "Retire the number 18"

Joe Cardona: "Hall of Fame player, teammate, leader, and person. Thank you for everything 18!"

Josh Uche: "Thank you for everything Slate. A true OG."

Chris Board: "Blessed to have been a part of your story"

Chad Ryland: "Couldn't have asked for a better man to look up to."

Mack Wilson: "Appreciate you Captain 18 you the (GOAT) man words can't express honestly. I'm forever grateful to share the field w/ you

Mac Jones: "Thank you Slate for changing the game!! Your legacy is forever, both on and off the field!! #Legend"

Bailey Zappe: "Appreciate ya for everything 18! Grateful for the last 2 years with you!"

Davon Godchaux: 🐐🐐🐐🐐🐐🐐

Myles Bryant:"My Brother."

Matt Cassel: "Incredible run. Congrats on an amazing career and being the definition of a pro's pro."

Tyquan Thornton:"The standard. Thank you for all the lessons & blessings slate dog."

Isaiah Bolden: "Man.. I was honored and blessed to see greatness"

Justin Bethel: "One of a kind! Congrats on retirement and an amazing career!"

Adrian Phillips: "Thank you for everything Slate, see you in the Hall"

Braxton Berrios:"The best to ever do it. Such an honor learning from you rookie year and then playing against you every year after. Enjoy retirement and the eventual Gold Jacket Slate!"

Daniel Ekuale: "OG!! Appreciate you for everything, it's a pleasure sharing the field with you"

Donté Stallworth: "SLATE!!! Congrats on a fantastic career, my brother."

Ty Montgomery*:* "Thank you man of God."

Jonnu Smith: "Forever grateful to have the opportunity to cross paths with you my brother. May God bless you and your family. Congrats champ one of the best to do it! 🐐"

Raleigh Webb: "Nobody like you Slate."

Beyond just teammates, Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, head coach Jerod Mayo, and former coach Bill Belichick all expressed what Slater meant to them.

Robert Kraft: "Matthew Slater wasn't just a special teams player for the Patriots. He was a special team player who helped us win three Super Bowls and made a positive impact on the many lives he touched, both on and off the field. On the field, his 10 Pro Bowl appearances will likely earn him a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day alongside his father. Off the field, he will be remembered for so much more." (Read Kraft's full statement here)

Jerod Mayo: "Matthew Slater – my friend, former co-captain, three-time Super Bowl Champion, five-time first-team All-Pro and 10-time Pro-Bowler – is an all-time great. He is an incredible human being and an extraordinary father, husband, son, friend and teammate, to name just a few of the many key roles he plays for countless people who have been fortunate enough to be graced by his presence." (Read Mayo's full statement here)

Bill Belichick: "Matthew Slater deserves every accolade someone could receive. He is a once in a lifetime person, and the best core special teams player in NFL history. His daily, weekly, and yearly work ethic, paved the way for his unsurpassed performance. Matthew is the finest example of what an intense competitor and human being should be. He has been a great role model for the teams players & coaches) that I have coached. Matthew is exceedingly kind, and supremely loved and respected by all his peers. I am one of many who feel incredibly blessed to be his teammate, coach, and friend." (via Adam Schefter, ESPN)

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