|Matthew Slater prays for Tim Tebow because ‘he’s putting himself out there on a limb’||12.15.11 at 4:28 pm ET|
FOXBORO — A Bible was open to the book of Isaiah on the locker stall of Matthew Slater.
It was like any other day at Gillette for the devout Christian. Slater – a member of the Patriots special teams and secondary – is among the many athletes who openly recognize their faith after a performance, giving praise to God before addressing their own achievements.
And this week, with all talk about Tim Tebow, Slater has a unique perspective on the most popular Christian athlete on the planet.
He took time to speak with WEEI.com Thursday and offer his thoughts on a man he will be chasing and defending on Sunday in Denver.
“I truly have a lot of respect for him,” Slater told WEEI.com on Thursday. “I think he’s a great ambassador for Christ and for the faith. I know he’s taken some criticism for how outspoken he is but I feel like, as Christians, we’re all called to be outspoken for Christ and take a stand and he’s definitely done that. I have a ton of respect for him.
“I definitely pray for the guy because he’s putting himself out there on a limb. But he’s doing it for the faith and I can relate. I understand his beliefs and where he’s coming from. So, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”
Slater has heard all the jokes about athletes being on the “God Squad” and all the NFL players who have mocked Tebow this year, dropping to one knee and pointing skyward going as far as “Tebowing” on the field when they tackle Tebow for a loss.
“Those who are familiar with the bible, Christ said they persecuted him and they’re going to persecute us as followers of him, also,” Slater said. “That’s criticism. As Christians, we kind of look at that as, ‘Well, I guess we’re doing something right,’ if we’re taking a stand for what we believe in, and whether people like it or not, he’s following his beliefs to the best of his ability and he’s a great ambassador for the faith.”
Slater has never sat down and discussed his faith with Tebow in person.
“I met him once when he was in here for a visit but haven’t spoken with him,” Slater said. “I’ve always admired him from afar, strictly for what he’s done for the faith and the for the man he seems to be. He’s truly a great ambassador for our faith.
“We’re out there competing. We’re out there to do a job, to win a game that we love and we compete hard. Hey, we can be brothers in Christ but I want to win the game and I’m sure he wants to win the game, also. It’s not going to be like, ‘Hey, brother, love you, man.’ No, we’re out there to win a game. We can play hard and compete as Christian athletes. It doesn’t change how we play the game. We play hard, we play physical and we want to win the game.”
Has Slater ever endured criticism for his open show of faith?
“I have in some cases but he’s just in the spotlight so much, being a quarterback, being as successful as he’s been and being as outspoken for the faith as he is, he’s more in the spotlight than I’ve been, personally,” Slater said. “But I have to admire him. Despite all the criticism that he has taken, he’s standing by his beliefs, and if people say he’s talking about the faith too much, this, that and the other. And respect him for that.”
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