Today, one of the most successful offensive lineman in New England Patriots history hung up his cleats, as former starting left tackle Matt Light called it a career after 11 seasons in the National Football League. A ceremony was held today at Gillette Stadium where Light announced his retirement.
Light, 33, spent his entire 11-year NFL career with the Patriots. After starting out his rookie season on the bench, Light transitioned into the starting left tackle, and hasn't looked back since. The Patriots won all three of their Super Bowls with the three-time pro bowler Light protecting Tom Brady's blindside. Light, along with Brady and Kevin Faulk are the only three players that have been on the New England roster during the Super Bowl wins.
With his teammates, coaches and owner in attendance, Light had this to say about why he decided to walk away from the game of football:
"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.
Check out comments from Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, and others, after the jump!
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wishing Light well after a "tremendous career":
"To not fool around with guard and right tackle, that was probably one of the best un-coaching, undoing a bad decision that I've done. He's been a tremendous player for us, a tremendous resource for our team. He's given great leadership as well as great performance. A lot of levity that we probably need around here. Most of which I'll miss, but not all of it. Matt, congratulations on a tremendous career. You and your family have meant a lot to this team and the community up here. Nobody was more consistent, more dependable, to count on, to coach than this guy has been the last 11 years. Thank God we were able to move him back to left tackle. Thank you for putting up with me."
Team owner Robert Kraft talking about what Light has meant to the organization:
In 2005, Matt was the recipient of the Ron Burton Community Service Award, which we present to the player who makes the greatest impact on the on field and in the community. For his many memorable moments, the most memorable one to me is last season. When Matt, his coaches and teammates commissioned this painting by Brian Fox -- I think Coach Belichick has told me that Matt took a real lead in this effort in memory of my sweetheart. It was a touching tribute and something that I will never forget. I've had the good fortune of having Matt grow up as a young man, his marriage to Susie, and how they now make Foxborough his home, and we hope it continues to be your home -- it has a good school system. We're graced to have great attendance by Susie, Gracie, and young William -- [his other son] Collin is at a school function -- dad is a special man and his contributions will always be valued by my family and this organization. My hope is this isn't the last time we will honor dad in this building. There aren't to many NFL players who can say that they've played their entire career in one place with one team, and aren't many who have three rings."
Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia on what made Matt Light special:
"I think consistency. Never really the great physical attributes of some of those great left tackles that we've seen but just really consistent, competitive, every down you're going to get his best effort. He's going to work very hard during the week to prepare himself to play, and all those things add up to, ‘OK, he's going to do all right.' It's a struggle out there, as it always with for anybody, but he'll do OK. And I think that's the biggest thing about him."
Light's longtime teammate Dan Koppen on why he considered Light one of the best teammates he's ever had:
"You just know. Even the young guys, they came out here and just wanted to be here for him and say goodbye in a sense. But even guys he's only been known [by] for one year, he's had a huge impact on them and their careers and how to conduct themselves as a professional, and a guy that just comes in everyday and works hard. He's just going to be missed. It's sad, but we're going to move on."