(CNSNews.com) - New England Patriots gunner Matthew Slater was surprised at the team’s Bible study – when he received a call informing him he was the recipient of the Bart Starr award.
“They set me up pretty good,” Slater told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.
“We have our Bible study on Mondays after the game. They changed the time of the Bible study, made it a little bit later, and I was like, 'Well, schedule adjust here.'”
“Jack Easterby (Team Chaplin/Character Coach) tells me, 'Hey, see you at Bible study,' and I'm like, 'Yeah,' you know, everything's status quo, and I go into the Bible study and there's like 60 guys in there and coaches, and I'm like, 'Man, we're about to have a good Bible study right now. This is going to be good.' And then Stacey James (Patriots Media Relations) is in there and the camera crew and I'm like, 'Man, I don't know if we're doing like a playoff edition of Bible study for the fans, but this is great.'”
“Jack's got a sheet that he usually has and he goes through some things, and then his phone starts ringing,” Slater continued. “I'm like, 'Man, come on Jack you've got to tighten up. You can't have your phone ringing here, we've got all these people.'”
Slater eventually discovered the call was for him.
“I'm not thinking me, but they call me down and the woman on the phone is Mrs. (Cherry) Starr. She tells me I win the award, and they had the cameras in there and my allergies start acting up a little bit. You know, seasonal allergies there. She told me my dad and I were the first father and son to win this award and I mean, I don't know. I'm just blown away by it. I really am,” Slater said.
The Bart Starr Award, is named after the Hall of Fame quarterback and given annually to the player who “best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.” It is an NFL sanctioned award given in conjunction with the Campus Crusade For Christ’s Athletes in Action organization.
Slater’s father, Jackie Slater (St. Louis Rams), was recognized with the award in 1996.
“I once heard my dad say that with all the success that he had in football that it was conceivable to him that God gave him that success in order [for him to] have a platform to connect with people and to share with them the things that he believes,” Slater said.
“I totally agreed with my dad when he said that. It's a platform and it's conceivable to me as well that everything that I've accomplished as a member of this team is solely so that I may have a platform to connect with people, that I can have a platform to share with people my faith, and just to love on people.”