Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and New England Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater have an enormous amount of respect for each other, and that was very clear Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
Slater and Brady were teammates for 12 seasons from 2008 through 2019, and they won three Super Bowl titles together during that span.
The two of them had a long embrace on the field after the game, and according to ESPN's Mike Reiss, "Before he left Gillette Stadium early Monday morning, Matthew Slater went to the Buccaneers’ buses to find Tom Brady."
Here's what Slater said about that when asked by Reiss on a Zoom call with reporters Monday afternoon.
"I won't touch on what was said, but it was important for me to find Thomas," Slater explained. "I can't say enough -- he's been such a great friend to me, he's been a mentor. He's shown me what it looks like on and off the football field. Anytime you get a chance to see one of your really good friends, you want to go say hello to him. I'm glad I got a chance to do that.
"I don't know if him and I will ever share a football field again, that's just reality. I wanted to cherish that a little bit. I know just as bad as he wanted to beat us, I wanted us to beat them. So that was tough, but I was glad I got to catch up with him."
Slater admitted it was "a little strange" playing against Brady after sharing the same sideline for so many years, but he also noted "it was an honor to share the field with Tom again".
It was likely the final time, too.