A few thoughts on the career of offensive lineman Matt Light, who was placed on the reserve/retired list today, making his retirement official from a paperwork standpoint:
It started with the Patriots making a trade to acquire him, leapfrogging the Jets in the second round of the 2001 draft. The Patriots had good information that the Jets were high on Light, so they moved up two spots -- from 50 to 48 -- to ensure he'd be playing with them, not against them, twice a year.
Light, who starred at Purdue, served as Tom Brady's blindside protector from 2001-2011 and played some of his best football in his final season. The three-time Super Bowl champion is walking away on his own terms because he showed decisively in 2011 that he can still play at a high level.
Annual battles with Miami's Jason Taylor, Buffalo's Aaron Schobel and Indianapolis' Dwight Freeney, among others, highlighted Light's importance to the Patriots, as limiting those top pass-rushers were key parts of the game plan. Like any left tackle, Light was beaten at times, but his overall consistency and durability was impressive.
Light played 155 regular-season games with 153 starts. He also was part of a lot of playoff football, with another 20 games played.
When he broke his leg in Pittsburgh in the third week of the 2005 season, it was the type of season-ending injury that gave one pause and made one wonder if it could affect a player's career. But Light returned in 2006 and hardly missed a beat.
Some of Light's best work also came off the field, through his Light Foundation. When he was interviewed before this year's Super Bowl, he explained that part of what he appreciated about his time in the NFL was the platform the game provided him to do good for others.
Light wasn't the type of player who let the game define him. In fact, he sometimes mentioned how he never really watched football, but he simply enjoyed playing it.
Always one who was quick to crack a joke, Light's approach was highlighted in this ESPNBoston.com story leading into Super Bowl XLVI. When asked if the Super Bowl might be the last game of his career, he replied, "When you start getting these questions, you realize you're getting old."
The answer was classic Light.