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As much as we'd love to talk football, it has taken a back seat to the conversations that need to be had about George Floyd's murder and the racial injustices that remain prevalent in the United States.
The "Black Lives Matter" movement has spread across the country with protests advocating for justice and racial equality. It has impacted the world of sports, with countless athletes using their platforms to let their voices be heard. NFL players even sent a strong message to the league with a video stating what they wanted to hear it say regarding the oppression of African Americans.
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On a brand new episode of the Next Pats Podcast, New England Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater joined Phil Perry to discuss the state of the nation.
Slater covered a variety of important topics in the episode. But one that particularly stood out was his explanation of how if the country operated like an NFL locker room, it would be a more inclusive place.
"It is a very unique place. A locker room setting -- you know, if our country operated and moved like a locker room, man it would be a beautiful thing," Slater said. "I'm not saying it's perfect, I'm not saying we've got it all figured out, but what a unique space where people from all different walks of life, different belief systems and things of that nature to work toward a common goal.
"And there's automatic respect that comes with the fact that you have a jersey and a helmet, and you're one of us. So I'm appreciative of that and I think now is a time for us to maybe forge those bonds even deeper. Guys that maybe hear personal stories and maybe experience this from their teammates have a different appreciation for why that guy is the way he is, why he does the things that he does. And I think ultimately that's going to lead to deeper and more fruitful relationships."
If anyone knows what a healthy, inclusive locker room environment looks like, it's Slater. The 34-year-old has been a captain for the Patriots for nearly a decade and has been an admirable leader throughout his stellar NFL career.
Slater also discussed how head coach Bill Belichick has been involved in the team's discussions about recent events, his experiences living as a black man in America, and much more.
Next Pats Podcast: Matthew Slater reflects on social unrest within U.S. and NFL originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston