FOXBORO, Mass. – “I took a moment. [I’ll] spend some time with my family on the field. It’s been a great run. To come out here, if this was the last one, I think to be able to leave Gillette with a win… I’ve had a lot of fun.”
That was Patriots captain Devin McCourty’s reaction to being asked if Sunday’s win vs. the Dolphins could be his last game ever in Gillette Stadium. Matthew Slater had a similar answer:
“It was definitely in the back of my mind… I took time to pause.”
McCourty (35) and Slater (37) are both wrapping up the one-year deals that they signed this offseason and have indicated, even before tonight, that they’re not sure what their futures hold.
“Devin has done about everything a player could do for this program. Say the same thing about Matt Slater in the kicking game,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after the game.
“I mean, I don’t know if there’s ever been or ever going to be a player than Matt Slater as an overall special teams player and the leadership he brought to the team, along with Devin. Devin came in as a corner, went to the Pro Bowl, moved to safety, led the defense from the safety position from his second year on. His off-the-the field leadership, on-the-field leadership is superior, as good as anybody I’ve ever coached at that position. He does everything right. He’s done everything right since he’s been here. He knows the line calls. He knows the defense inside and out, so, he has total respect from everybody because of his preparation and his unselfish play. Same thing for Slater. I don’t know if he was here either, same question, but probably. What those two guys have done, what they mean to this organization, what they mean to me personally, what they’ve done here, it’s pretty impressive, pretty elite.”
Quarterback Mac Jones, who is in his first year as a captain for New England, had this to say about his fellow leaders, in the most “Patriot Way” possible:
“Yeah, I think we have a lot of great older players on the team. Those guys just come to work every day and set the standard of Patriot football. Yeah, I think we have a great group. Obviously, that’s something that they’re not focused on, we’re not focused on. We’re just trying to have a great week here and enjoy this one, get ready to play a really good team. That’s what they want. They just want to have their best week, for us to have our best week. Love those guys. Excited to have a good week here.”
McCourty and Slater won Super Bowl’s XLIX, LI, and LII together during their tenure in New England, and will forever be conjoined in Patriots lore.
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