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Patriots HC Bill Belichick tabs special teamer Matthew Slater as 'best of all time'

Having hoisted a sextet of Lombardi Trophies, Bill Belichick certainly holds a claim, if he hasn't already clinched the designation, for being the greatest head coach in NFL chronicle.

From Belichick's point of view, he's been charmed in his career to have coached the greatest player in each facet of the game: offense, defense and special teams.

He believes he's still coaching one of them: special teamer Matthew Slater.

"I've been very fortunate," Belichick said in a recent interview with The 33rd Team. "I feel like I coached the best offensive player -- best player in football in Tom (Brady), the best defensive player in football in L.T. (Lawrence Taylor) and the best special teams player in football in Matt Slater. When you have the opportunity to coach players that are great in areas, and that of course includes the specialists, guys like Adam Vinatieri and (Stephen) Gostkowski, don't want to take anything away from them, either. And great punters like (Sean) Landeta and (Dave) Jennings and so forth.

"But the special teams coverage guys -- and we've had a lot of them -- back in the Giants, you know, with Reyna Thompson, and great returners like (Dave) Meggett and (Julian) Edelman and Troy Brown and all that. But as a core special teams player, Slater really is, I'd say, been the best of all time. I hope he gets recognized for that."

Slater embodies a prototypical Belichick player -- i.e., a guy who buys into the Patriot Way.

The son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater, Matthew Slater was a fifth-round pick out of UCLA back in 2008. He played receiver and then defensive back for the Bruins, providing him with a versatile skill set to do all things special teams for the Pats.

He became a regular special teams stalwart for the Patriots and by his fourth season was voted to the first of his 10 career Pro Bowls. Along with the all-star honors, Slater earned All-Pro recognition twice and was a member of three Super Bowl-winning squads.

The 37-year-old signed on for his 16th campaign this offseason. It might be his last, it might not. But in the eyes of the only NFL head coach Slater has ever had, when the veteran does call it a career he'll have earned a place among the elite of the elite.

Said Belichick: "If you're a coach and you can coach Taylor, Brady and Slater, that's three pretty good players."

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