Former Buffalo Bills star WR and Hall-of-Famer Andre Reed was inducted into Canton in 2014 in a class stacked with defensive giants like Derrick Brooks and Aeneas Williams.
Reed recently spoke about being inducted into the Hall and the chances of New England Patriots great Matthew Slater getting the call once his career is done.
Reed Scoffs at Notion Special-Teamers Aren’t Hall-of-Famers
I had a chance to speak with Reed, who is one of the former athletes working with the NFL and Enthusiast Gaming on the Tuesday Night Gaming initiative. TNG allows fans to compete against current and former athletes on an upcoming YouTube program in select video games. NFL TNG debuts September 13 at 6:30 PM ET and will stream live on YouTube in the United States and Canada every Tuesday during the 2022-2023 NFL regular season.
During the conversation with Reed, I asked him about the Hall-of-Fame chances of his former teammate Steve Tasker and current Patriots special teams wiz Matthew Slater. No career special-teams coverage player has ever been inducted into the Hall, but some believe Tasker’s induction could be the one that breaks ground for others who have played the role. Others believe the role is too small for Hall-of-Fame consideration.
“I don’t know who said that,” Reed responded after I mentioned the latter. “The Hall of Fame is the Hall of Fame. They’re not going to put a special-teamer in a separate room.”
Tasker made 7 Pro Bowls during his career as a special-teams specialist. He retired after the 1997 season, and he’s already had several years on the ballot without ever coming close to gaining induction.
Slater’s resume is even better than Tasker’s impressive career. The 36-year-old son of Hall-of-Fame offensive tackle Jackie Slater has made 10 Pro Bowls, two All-Pro teams, and won three Super Bowls. If there is someone who has played almost exclusively special teams during their career who is worthy of a Hall call, you’d think it has to be Slater.
Will Steve Tasker and/or Matthew Slater Make it to the Hall of Fame?
I asked Reed for his opinion on Tasker and Slater’s chances of gaining induction. He said: “Their chances are good. I think the Hall-of-Fame voters are becoming more and more aware of what a special teams player has done.”
“Steve Tasker definitely deserves to be in there. I am just saying that because he was a teammate of mine, but he was kind of the benchmark of a special teams player in the 1990s. Like you said, Slater has been doing it for a while. Devin Hester was one of the best return men of all time. In my class, Ray Guy was the first punter to go in. Usually, it takes one to kind of get the voters to talk a little bit more. From there, you’re hoping to get these guys their just due, and I think that will happen.
Slater is set to play in 2022, but we don’t know if this will be his last year in the NFL. If it is, his first year of eligibility would be eligible for induction in 2028. If former teammate Tom Brady calls it a career after this season, that could be his class. The same could be said for other aging stars like Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Whitworth, and another special-teamer, kicker Robbie Gould.
While you could argue that Tasker deserves the honor, chances are he won’t be recognized. The burden of breaking down the wall seemingly falls on Slater’s shoulders.