- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –- Matt Light tackled some questions upon the conclusion of his retirement ceremony, during which he shed light on his decision to retire, teammate Tom Brady, a practical joke that his coach didn’t find very funny, and a handful of difficult opponents he faced throughout his career.
Here are highlights from the candid session:
Light faced innumerable quality defensive players throughout his career, but one player stood above the rest.
“Without a doubt, Dwight Freeney. He’s a guy that I had a lot of respect for. It’s not just the way he plays the game, it’s how many different ways he can make you look silly out there, and which, there are plenty. I can go through them all. We can go watch film of he and I, and you’ll see it yourself. He’s just an all around great player. And he’s not a guy that talks a lot out there, he doesn’t have anything to say to you, he’s not trying to beat you with his words. He’s going to go out there and he’s going to put the work in and he’s going to show you how bad you can look. I always appreciated that out of him – not [him] making me look bad – but definitely the challenge, going out there and trying to face a guy like him. And he was really in our division as much as anybody else is in our division, so we saw each other a lot. There was a lot of great players. Early in my career, I never forget my rookie year facing a guy in Miami, a hundred million degrees, and his last name was Taylor. Boy he did not go away for my entire career pretty much. He was a menace from day one to the end. Even in our own division, guys like John Abraham, [Aaron] Schobel, and all the rest of those guys. You know it’s always good when you can have a wingman who can support you and make you look good, so I had a great cast. You know Kop [Dan Koppen] and Logan [Mankins] and Steve Neal, all the other guys that were a part of it, [Nick] Kazcur, over the years there’s been a lot of different faces. I’ve been blessed to have those guys next to me, they saved the day many a time, because when Freeney spun past me, and then he would sometimes spin past Logan, he would eventually have to run into Kop, and that was always good. And something I liked do with them.”
On why he decided to retire now, given his strong performance in 2011:
“I kept getting these horrible questions from reporters all the time in the locker room. That got very difficult. No, you know, I’ve got a daughter that’s 10, and I’ve got two boys that are knuckleheads, and they need a lot of guidance, and they need a lot more time. I think one of the things that was very apparent over the last couple of seasons is that it takes a lot longer to recover the older you get. And so, really during that six, seven, eight months of football season it really became very difficult to give much outside of a “hi” “goodbye” or “good morning” to my family and that’s always been really important to me. And also health reasons, and just wanting to leave this game upright and feeling good. And to be quite honest with you, I really had this sense of just being grateful for the experience. And I remember 2011, this past season, there was a different mindset, maybe that’s why I enjoyed some success out there, to whoever’s degree, but I really just felt like man, I’m just blessed to be a part of this. That made that season so memorable and so much fun and knowing that for me, when I finally close a chapter, I don’t look back. I am truly grateful, and I felt as though the organization, especially some of this young talent, Nate [Solder] and Marcus [Cannon] and some of the guys that came in, and Donald [Thomas] and all these guys that are newer faces, and Nick [McDonald], the guys that I was in the room with and I saw how talented they are and I just really felt like they were in good hands. Obviously with Dante [Scarnecchia] at the helm, there’s always going to be high expectations and I didn’t feel like I was leaving them in a bad place. When you know it’s your time, you just know.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said during a video tribute to Light that he’s going to try to persuade the left tackle out of retirement. Light acknowledged that they already have had the conversation, and shared words about his relationship with his quarterback.
“You know, we’ve talked and when you spend that much time with players, I think it’s hard to picture, it’s hard for me, for example, there are many guys who are in this category, when you have a guy like Tedy Bruschi no longer a part of the organization. When that happens, and the reality sets in, you look around the locker room and you hear certain things or you remember certain things that you guys used to do back and forth. And it’s kind of hard to imagine without certain guys, most every guy, there’s a few that you didn’t mind walking out the door, it’s been difficult for me to think not seeing all those guys, especially guys that you’ve been in the locker room with for so long. And we’ve had the conversation, and he threw out there a year’s worth of Kit Kats, which he knows I’m a little partial to. And I thought that was a low blow, but I turned it down. I’m trying to lose some weight, so it was a little easier. But you know, I think that ultimately, they’re in great shape, like I said. They’ve got a great core groups of guys, and they brought in a lot of new guys and I’m sure that once he reconsiders it, he’ll realize that his life will be a lot less chaotic and he wont have to look over his shoulder anymore, knowing no one near any one else is going to pull [a prank] on him next. Which by the way, his Stetson stuff was incredible over the years, the goats and the sheep and the pictures that were placed on our backs, we’ll never forget that special moment. And everything that he stood for. And just the week-in and week-out of Tom Brady, being relentless in everything he did. I mean, he was as much of a coach as he was a player, he elevated the game of everybody around him. To be a part of that, to see all of that, to have a front seat for it has been incredible and I appreciate everything he’s done for me in my career, and on and off the field he’s always been an inspiration, he’s always been supportive. It’s been great.”
Light became known for his prank-pulling antics, and he described a most memorable occurrence that Bill Belichick was on the unfortunate end of.
“A favorite all-time prank? Man. I have a hard drive that’s about two and a half terabytes that’s full of great video. Truly great memories. I’ve got a lot that are high on my list, I think one that I really enjoyed was if you go online you can find these remotes that look just like a mouse for your computer, and it actually plugs into the back of your computer. The only difference is this thing carries about 400 volts of electricity, and you will scream for Jesus when that thing hits you. And for whatever reason, I thought it would be comical to put that in Bill’s office. And it was during camp, so we were a little irritated, not thinking clearly. And I had a little help from some of my teammates, and I can remember walking in the next morning and truly forgetting that I had put that in Bill’s office. And when I walked in the first person you see is Berj [Najarian, director of football/head coach administration], he looked at me and he gave me that grin and he said, ‘you might have gone a little too far.’ Which, all the memory came back, and I thought well, he’s just setting me up. What happened? Well, Bill went into his office and as he usually does, takes his meticulous notes on every day. He can tell you exactly what the team was thinking 17 years ago, wherever he was. He can tell you how the practice went that day. He’s unbelievable with the organizational side of the game of football, day-in and day-out. And apparently – had he left a notice I wouldn’t have done it – he had this application opened up where he kept all of his notes and went to click on that, and fried himself not once but twice. He closed that particular program out, and of course it had all of his notes from the day and, which obviously didn’t make him very happy. And when he told me this story I thought it was very far-fetched and very awkward, and there’s no way that could possibly happen, because who could possibly shock themselves twice, but he doesn’t give up easy. And so I went through the hallway, and the second person I ran into was Bill, and he said, ‘hey funny guy, that’s the last time you walk into my office’ and he had a few other things he had to say, and I thought, wow, he’s toeing the company line on this one. To which I made some smart remark and went in and got my breakfast and left. And the one guy in that organization that I knew wouldn’t mess with me was Matt Patricia [the Patriot safeties coach] and when he came to tell me that they had the longest meeting of their lives, thanks in part to my practical joke that I pulled on Bill, I knew for a fact that that had happened, and I felt horrible. And I haven’t apologized to this day, and this is my way of saying I’m sorry.”
On staying involved with the game:
"Yeah, I think serving the players as part of the executive committee within the [players association]. It’s a very interesting time right now, you look at the NFL, and you look at the brand and the image, and the quality of the guys and the quality of play and everything else. It’s a really good time to be in the National Football League. From a players standpoint, now that I’m going to have some time on my hands, understanding kind of what they go through, and the issues they face day-in and day-out, some of the things that we know can definitely be beneficial, are things that I can help contribute back to them. Really be a sounding board back to them when they have problems and things of that nature. So I think that would keep me – with the next two-year term that I’ve got – involved in. It’ll really be something that I’ll embrace and I’ll look forward to doing. And however else I can stay a part of the game, again, I kind of wait for those opportunities to present themselves. I think just being here in New England, being able to sit in the stands, maybe have one of those $14 beers, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I look forward to it. I definitely plan to stay involved in the game and everything else."