Jackie Slater, a veteran of twenty National Football League seasons, was like the Energizer Battery bunny that “just kept going and going and going.” Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the third round of the 1976 NFL Draft, Slater is tied for third all time for the most seasons played in the history of the league. His 259 regular-season games played were the most ever by an offensive lineman when he retired, and his 20 seasons with one team was an NFL record.
Although used primarily as a backup and special teams player during his first three seasons, Slater became a starter in 1979 and was a part of an offensive line that surrendered just 29 sacks and helped the Rams’ offense finish second in the NFL in total yards gained with 6,006.
The 6-4, 277-pound tackle went on to become the mainstay of the Rams’ offensive line. Slater was a first- or second-team all-pro selection following five different seasons and a first- or second-team All-NFC choice, seven times. A popular player known for his work ethic and leadership skills, Slater earned seven Pro Bowl berths. His first selection followed the 1983 season, and then was chosen in consecutive years from 1985 through 1990.
Twenty-four different quarterbacks and 37 different running backs played behind Slater during his long career. A powerful drive blocker, Slater blocked for seven different 1,000-yard rushers, including Lawrence McCutcheon, Wendell Tyler, Eric Dickerson, Charles White, Greg Bell, Cleveland Gary, and Jerome Bettis. He also blocked in 107 games in which a runner gained 100 yards or more. Slater was also a quality pass blocker.
Twenty-seven times Rams quarterbacks threw for 300 yards or more in a game with Jackie in the lineup. In 1983, he and the Rams offensive line demonstrated their versatility when they allowed a league-low 23 sacks while also paving the way for Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards.
A veteran of 18 playoff games, including Super Bowl XIV, Slater was a model of consistent superlative play and was widely regarded as one of the game’s premier linemen.