Robert Kraft on Matt Light's retirement

May, 7, 2012
5/07/12
11:46
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Podium comments from Patriots offensive tackle Matt Light's retirement ceremony on Monday:

Patriots owner Robert Kraft:

"I want to thank everyone for coming. It's a wonderful crowd. Probably going to speak a little longer than usual. Part of it is, as I thought back over the last 11 years, 12 years, we have someone pretty unique here. I want you to know this is the first time that we've hosted a retirement event at the Hall. I think it's an appropriate venue as a player who spent his entire stellar career here.

His introduction to New England probably wasn't the most celebrated. Our fans were a little disappointed when we picked a defensive lineman with the sixth pick and then Matt was our first pick in the second round. We picked two linemen. Both players become rookie starters in a season that helped win our first championship in 42 years. Both of them were starters. During his 11 NFL seasons, Matt never experienced a season that was under .500 with us. Nine AFC East titles. He started 173 of 175 games at left tackle. That includes sixth AFC championship games, five Super Bowls, three pro bowls. The uniqueness of that statistic... Matt is the only offensive player other than a quarterback to start in five Super Bowls. There are five players in the history of the NFL to do that: Tom Brady, John Elway, Cornelius Bennett, Charles Haley, Matt Light.

On the field, he was a tenacious competitor who had one of the toughest jobs. Every week he's be going up against the greatest athlete on the defensive lineman who was coming after our quarterback's blindside. Off the field, he was the guy who kept it L-I-G-H-T for everyone else. He brought humor and hijinks to the locker room and meeting rooms since the days we drafted him. At our annual kickoff gala, there is a tradition where veterans will surprise rookies and call them up without giving them any notice. The 2001 gala, our host was Dennis Miller. They called Matt up and he had the whole crowd and Dennis Miller in stitches. We never thought he'd give up the mic. No rookie has ever been as comfortable with mic as Matt was.

That was our first introduction to the lighter side of Matt Light. Throughout his career, he found humor in most situations. He had many looks: clean shaven and studious to non-shaven and neanderthal. Not quite the trim look that you see there now. He sported a mustache and sang the mustache men. He sported white spandex and dance to 'Swan Lake' with Ray Lewis, Justin Tuck, and lizards during a Super Bowl ad on national TV. But I personally admire most about Matt is that he contributed to the team both amazing on the field and in the locker room. His impact on our community, we still feel the legacy, both here in New England and back in Ohio he's been making a very positive impact on the lives of children, and is the model of what we consider to be a true Patriot.

I remember when he started the Light Foundation in his second season, 2002. Always creative and thinking outside the box, Matt came to me and came to asked for my support and endorsement for his inaugural fundraiser, the Matt Light Celebrity Shootout. Light's plan was to arm dozens of his teammates with shotguns deep in the woods of Rhode Island. What could possibly go wrong? But ten years later, the shootout and all of its participants have survived, and [it] has funded a number of great programs that Matt has supported though his foundation.

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."

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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