Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater initially had second thoughts about his son, Matthew, who is now preparing for his fifth Super Bowl as a member of the New England Patriots, playing football at all.
Jackie Slater, 64, told the Associated Press on Tuesday he didn’t think Matthew would have been big enough to have success.
“I discouraged them to play football. I didn’t think (Matthew) would be big enough to play football,” Slater said. “I coached in basketball, soccer, track and field, even some flag football. I didn’t see football as something that he would excel. But when he played flag, he had good speed and he caught the ball and ran well.”
Matthew Slater gave other reasons why his former Los Angeles Rams lineman father wanted him to avoid the sport altogether.
“He felt that way for two reasons,” he said. “First, he didn’t want me to feel the pressure of living up to his name. He thought the expectations could be unfair.
“He also wanted me to avoid injury. He knew the toll it takes on you physically.”
Though Jackie Slater said he turned to his own teammates to help Matthew harness the power of his speed and technique, Matthew credited his father with everything he’s achieved.
“He made every effort to be present,” Matthew Slater said. “That’s what I appreciate the most: He was a father first. So many young kids … many black kids … I see they don’t have a presence like that.
“Anytime I have success, certainly my dad is sharing in it. It all goes back to my dad; I wouldn’t be playing this game without him. It’s pretty unique, a son being able to do something his dad did. We are enjoying this ride together.”
Jackie Slater, who only made it to one Super Bowl, said no matter what happens Sunday in Atlanta it’s still a “win-win situation.”
“If my son loses, it’s not as if he hasn’t experienced the thrill of victory in a Super Bowl, something I never did. And if he loses, it hurts, but he has a great attitude about it. It helps me live with the defeats he has.
“If the Rams win, I will be happy because I have been pulling for this team for more than 40 years. My first hero in the game was Tom Mack, who I actually played with for three years,” Slater said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.