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When members of the New England Patriots gathered at owner Robert Kraft's home to receive their Super Bowl rings in the summer of 2004, offensive lineman Matt Light couldn't make it. It wasn't by choice.
Light was fighting to stay alive, in the middle of a 30-day hospital stay.
"It was one of the darkest periods in my life," he recalled Monday.
Had things unfolded according to plan, Light would have had 13 inches of his intestine removed, the intestine would have grown back, there would have been no complications, and he would have been back on the field for the start of 2004 training camp.
But that's not the way it happened.
Instead, there were post-surgery complications. Light didn't eat for a month. His weight dropped from 315 pounds to 260, as his under-the-radar battle with Crohn's disease -- a bowel disease that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system -- was attacking him with force.
Forget about facing potent pass-rushers such as Dwight Freeney, Jason Taylor, Aaron Schobel and John Abraham. Light just wanted to make sure he'd get out alive.
Light told this story publicly, and detailed his decade-long struggle with Crohn's, for the first time Monday in a private moment after his retirement news conference.