New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater (18) watches from the sideline during the second half of a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 16, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater played 20 years in the NFL and made it to one Super Bowl, when the Los Angeles Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1980.

On Feb. 3, his son, Matthew Slater, will play in his fifth Super Bowl for the New England Patriots.

They’ll face the Rams — his father’s old team — in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

“My dad gives me a hard time about that,” Slater, the Patriots’ special teams ace, said on Thursday. “That really brings it into perspective. You see and hear about guys who have played a lengthy period of time and haven’t even won a playoff game. It really puts it all in perspective for you and hopefully keeps you humble and thankful for what we have here.”

The Patriots will have a huge advantage in Super Bowl experience.


Thirty-eight of the 53 players on New England’s roster have played in at least one Super Bowl, led, of course, by quarterback Tom Brady, who is making his NFL-record ninth appearance.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski will appear in his sixth Super Bowl. Slater and defensive backs Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty will appear in their fifth. Six others will be playing in their fourth.

The Rams have four players with previous Super Bowl experience: running back C.J. Anderson (two) and wide receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerbacks Sam Shields and Aqib Talib, one each. Cooks played for the Patriots in last year’s game.

Slater and others dismiss the significance of Super Bowl experience.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an advantage at all,” left guard Shaq Mason said. “I mean, it’s one game and everybody’s going to be up for the game. So, it’s whoever puts their best display out there that day.”

What the Patriots have, they say, is an appreciation of what they are accomplishing. New England is playing in its ninth Super Bowl since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000 and Brady became the starting quarterback a year later. It’s the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl appearance in five years, and third in a row. They’ve won five of their last eight appearances.


“You don’t think about that often,” said the 33-year-old Slater, a fifth-round selection in the 2008 draft. “But I think in a situation like this, when you step back, it hits you — ‘Oh man, this is my fifth Super Bowl.’ That’s crazy.

“You start to realize how blessed you are and that this is something special and you shouldn’t take it for granted.”

Center David Andrews understands that.

Andrews was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia in 2015 and is starting his third straight Super Bowl.

“I’m just fortunate that Coach Belichick gave me a chance,” he said. “I knew this was a special place. I had never stepped foot in it but knew it was a special place, its track record, and I wanted to be a part of that in whatever aspect I could. So when I got the chance I jumped all over it.”

Tight end Rob Gronkowski knows the trip can create a lot of distractions for first-time participants.


So he has one message for those on the Patriots: “We’re down there for one reason and it’s to get the win. The only thing you remember from the trip is if you won or if you lost.”

DEREK RIVERS, the defensive end who was born in Augusta, Maine, but raised in North Carolina, said he’s looking forward to his first Super Bowl. He was on injured reserve last year when the Patriots lost to Philadelphia.

“Exciting times,” he said. “It’s a blessing.”

Rivers, a third-round pick in 2017 (and the first player selected by the Patriots that year), appeared in six games in the regular season and had two tackles, including his first career sack. He was active for the divisional round playoff game but not the AFC championship game.

Even though he didn’t play a lot, he felt he improved each week.

“Whether you play or not, you contribute in a way, whether that’s in practice or on the (practice squad),” he said. “Everybody is giving a look on scout team and that helps everyone. To be able to play against the (starters) — I feel we have the best offensive line in the league — to be able to compete against those guys each day makes you a better player.”


Rivers is looking forward to some down time in Maine in the offseason. His aunt, Sandra Dunn, lives in Chelsea and his grandparents live in Nobleboro.

“We’re looking forward to seeing them after the season, make a couple of trips to Augusta,” he said.

THE PATRIOTS will hold a send-off rally at Gillette Stadium at 10 a.m. Sunday. The rally is free and open to the public.

Fans will be treated to live music and entertainment, as well as comments from owner Robert Kraft, Belichick and the team captains.