FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Patriots offensive tackle Matt Light formally announced his retirement in a ceremony at the Patriots’ team hall of fame on Monday. Light, 33, was asked for his rationale for retiring after 11 NFL seasons: “You know, I’ve got a daughter that’s 10 [years old], I’ve got two boys who are knuckleheads and they need a lot of guidance a lot more time. I think that one of things that was ever apparent over the last couple seasons, it takes a lot longer to recover the older you get. Really during that six, seven, eight months of that football season, it really becomes very difficult to give much outside of a ‘hi’ or ‘goodnight’ or ‘good morning.’ That’s always been really important,” Light said. “Also health reasons, just wanting to leave this game upright and feeling good. To be quite honest with you, I really had this sense of being grateful for the experience. I remember 2011, this past season there was a different mindset, maybe that’s why I enjoyed some success out there. I really just felt like I am blessed to be a part of this. It made this season so memorable, so fun, for me, when I finally closed this chapter, I am truly grateful. Especially this young talent, I saw how talented they were and how they were in good hands. With [offensive line coach] Dante [Scarnecchia] in the room, there’s going to be high expectations. “When you know it’s your time, you just know,” Light concluded.
Short of ending it with a championship… give me a second to compose myself. OK, I’m ready to go on… it’s almost impossible for a guy to end his career any better than this, right? Played his whole career for one team. Going out on possibly his best individual season. Leaving with all his faculties. Plenty to look forward to, up to his eyeballs in his charity work. I mean, it’s hard not to see the way Matt Light is calling it quits and not compare him to guys like Junior Seau and how horrible life after football was for them. You never know, but I can’t picture Light doing anything but making the world his bitch at whatever he does from now on. He just strikes me as one of those kinds of guys.
And I will go to my grave arguing that Light was one of the truly underappreciated guys of our times. Both on and off the field. I’ll concede that he wasn’t a dominant Jonathan Ogden/ Walter Jones type of tackle. But he was way better than he got credit for. It’s no coincidence that he went to five Super Bowls and has three rings. As much as any position in pro sports, the O-line/ D-line battle comes down to certain guys matching up better against some opponents than others. And for every great defensive end/ linebacker Light struggled with (Jason Taylor, Michael Strahan), he had some elite guys completely dominated every time out (Dwight Freeney, Shawn Merriman). And save for one freakish hit on Tom Brady’s knee in 2008, the World’s Most Precious Quarterback Resource never missed a game in 12 years. Much of that due to the fact we had a reliable left tackle on his blindside. There’s a reason those guys make the big money, and Matt Light earned his.
But off the field I think he was exactly the kind locker room presence that holds a team together. A chemistry guy. A glue guy. The way Kevin Millar was for the Sox. That hilarious, irreverent weirdo who keeps the team from splitting along the Superstar-Role Player Fault. When Brady started to go all Metrosexual Icon on us, it was Light who printed off copies of the baby goat picture and pinned it to the back of the linemen shirts to bust Brady’s balls and brought him back down to Earth. That’s the kind of contribution they don’t make Fantasy stats for, but I’m convinced there’s a direct correlation between it and winning. I’m glad Belichick prepared for this day by drafting tackles in 2009 and ’10. But on and off the field, Matt Light will still be someone we’ll miss when he’s gone. @JerryThornton1