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BOSTON (CBS) – Fresh off announcing his retirement, Matt Light joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zolak down at Gillette Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Light hung it up after 11 NFL seasons, all with the New England Patriots, with five trips to the Super Bowl and three championships on his resume. He knew midway through last season he would retire, wanting to spend more time with his family.
“I didn’t know going into it. I think it was about halfway through the season. I realized I have three kids that are incredible and they need more time, and I just didn’t have it,” said Light. “It’s a year-round commitment and I didn’t have the time to give them. I’m sitting there watching them go through things at school, my wife making decisions because I wasn’t around.”
“When it did dawn on me that this was it, it was like turning the switch on,” said Light, a four-time Pro Bowler. “I felt good and I was pretty fortunate not to have any major injuries. I never had the mindset that I was going to run this thing until the wheels fell off; I’m just not that kind of guy. I have a lot of other interest in things that I definitely want to accomplish. You guys are ancient, but I’m getting up there in age.”
For Light, there a plenty of memories to take away from his career; from Super Bowl championships to on-field fun. Always entertaining to be around, Light has plenty of stories to tell of his career in New England, and he will certainly miss the camaraderie in the locker room.
“Without a doubt,” Light said. “There were things that happened that were part of the journey, but they weren’t the focus.”
“I will never forget certain moments – and this will sound horrible – in the shower. I’ve seen things in that shower that no person should ever have to witness,’ he joked. “That’s one unique aspect, but even if it goes back to the times right before the meetings on the road, in the hotel, where something happened or somebody said something. There was always a bit of levity that you could bring to a very serious moment that was always incredible when it happened.”
Gallery: Matt Light: A Lifelong Patriot
There is also the now-Patriot tradition where if one of the lineman, offensive or defensive, can catch a punt one day at training camp, the team gets the evening off. That all began because of Light.
“I’ll never forget how it started,” Light said of the tradition. “(Belichick) is walking through the lines in 2002 or 2003. It’s in the middle of the dog days of camp, it’s a million degrees. And Bill goes to the guy in front of me ‘how’s it going?’ Like honestly you’re going to ask that question? It’s the middle of camp, how do you think it’s going?
“But this guy obviously replies with the answer that everyone does ‘It’s going great coach.’ He could pass out at any moment but ‘it’s going great coach,’” recalled Light.
“I had it my mind if he’s going to come to me and ask me how I’m doing I’m going to be real with you. He walks over and gave me that look without saying anything, where you’re not sure if you should speak or not speak — that awkward 15 second pause he gives people,” Light recalled. “After looking me up and down he goes ‘And how are you Light?’ To be honest with you Bill, I’m doing horrible; this sucks. These other guys are telling you what you want to hear, I’m gonna tell you the truth: we’ve been out here practicing too much, it’s hot, I’m miserable and I’m sore. I’d rather go in right now to be honest with you. So I told him ‘what you need to do is give the guys a night off tonight. If a fat guy can catch a punt, something totally that the athletes in this football world do, if a fat guy catches a punt we should have the night off.’”
“So he mills around. I’m literally thinking of everyone as a fat guy but me. So at the end of practice he pulls everyone up and says that ‘if Light catches this punt, we have the night off. If he doesn’t catch it, there will be hell to pay.’ That was not how I intended it. But little things like that; this is why people play the game this way and why I’ve been able to enjoy it for 11-years.”
Light caught the punt, and the team got the night off.
Light couldn’t leave without reflecting on one man who made his career, and it was the one he spent most of his time protecting: Tom Brady.
“We wouldn’t be having this discussion with this feeling and the sentiment in the room without 12,” said Light. “Tom Brady to a lot of people is a lot of things, but to me he is a guy that has been there on a consistent basis day in and day out… when you get him one-on-one you see that the heart of everything he does is making himself and those around him better.”
What funny stories does Light have on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski? And what does he think of his former teammates dancing moves? And did he and Belichick ever team up for a practical joke? Find out that and more with Matt Light on Gresh & Zo!