Former Patriot Matt Light Talks Playoffs, Taking A Knee And What He Misses Most About Playing

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Tomorrow night is going to be a big (and, hopefully, unforgettable) night here in Patriots Nation as we gear up for the AFC Divisional Round against the Tennessee Titans. Earlier this week, we talked with wide receiver Julian Edelman on sitting out this season due to a torn ACL and this morning, we had the chance to catch up with former New England Patriots offensive tackle #72, Matt Light, to talk playoffs, taking a knee and what he misses most about playing football.

Susie and Matt LightPhoto Credit: Paul Marotta/Getty Images for David Yurman

As an ex-Patriot, this is certainly an exciting time of year with your team in the playoffs.

I think, at least the way I retired, I was at a point when I wanted to do something different. When the team gets to the playoffs though, you kind of wish you could be a part of that. When you are in the organization, you put in a lot of work to get to the playoffs and don’t have a chance to reflect on the season. It’s either get it done, or you’re out. There’s a lot of stress when you’re in it. You may not feel the same as an outsider looking in. It’s really just awesome to watch.
New England Patriots at Gillette StadiumPhoto Credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola

The Matt Light Foundation helps at-risk kids have a healthier life by participating in its outdoor leadership camp, Camp Vohokase, in your home state of Ohio. You and your team follow the kids all year to ensure they stay on track. Tell us about the 2018 Speed of Light Marathon team and how much money you hope to raise this year for the Foundation.

We have been fortunate to have a great relationship with John Hancock. You have to show you’re going to work hard for it. The team is so passionate and applying all that to the marathon team is really quite a process. These runners, the dedication and amount of hours to get ready for the Boston Marathon is very inspiring. It also helps spread the word on our programming. This year, we hope to raise $150,000 to $200,000. We are doing it with a fun kickoff event being held at Capo on March 14 where we get all of the runners in one place and invite anyone out who wants to cheer them on or support the Foundation.
 Team Speed of LightPhoto Credit: The Light Foundation

You were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in your rookie year (2001), had surgery, recovered and helped the team win your third Super Bowl ring. How has the disease changed your outlook on life?

When I think back on that period of time, it’s always interesting. I have been working with young people my entire career. My mother taught music for 35 years and my father is a teacher of all things. Through the Light Foundation, we work with young people on their mindset. When the President uses a bad word, people are up in arms, but we have politicians and celebrities that are embroiled in worse types of behavior. As the saying goes when you point a finger out, you have three fingers pointing back at yourself. I have had 15 major surgeries, a lot of which were football related and they removed 18 inches of my intestines. When you are humble and realize the ‘why’ in life, all of the little things don’t mean anything. We live in a world that is fast paced. Be humble, understand what it is like to sacrifice and do something meaningful in life. I didn’t need Crohn’s to do that. I wanted to earn everything I have. Crohn’s forced me at some of the fast paced moments in life to stop and think. It’s a great lesson to keep at the forefront when you are going through things and I recognize a lot of other people have gone through much worse things than me.
2013 USO Tour to AfghanistanPhoto Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric Glassey

What was it like playing your entire career for Coach Belichick?

I spent 11 years with a guy who was fairly demanding (laughs), but that fit my style. I don’t need an ‘atta boy’ and he wasn’t going to give that. I liked knowing that we were going to be well prepared for every game. That’s the core tenet of what Bill does. I loved everything that was the Patriot way. Sure, there were times that I didn’t agree with him, but I thought to myself if I’m going to tell Bill what to do then I should be the head coach and I didn’t want that job.
Matt Light Retirement CeremonyPhoto Credit: New England Patriots

You have been pretty outspoken against players “taking a knee” during the national anthem.  What made you decide to speak out?

There were a lot of things that led to that. I have been a huge supporter of the team, and it’s not about individuals on the team. My thought was at the message being sent. We know what the Patriots organization is about and the world knows what the organization is about. What they showed through their actions didn’t speak to the organization and that hurt. I’m all for solving problems and making the country a better place. The idea you can’t speak freely about how you feel because others don’t want to hear your opinion is the problem with this country. I love debate. It doesn’t mean you are angry with someone. To me, the kneeling was so very simple to understand. There’s a time and place for everything. Think about what you’re doing and do it in the best way. Taking a knee can’t possibly do anything to raise awareness and that has always been my message. One thing the league won’t acknowledge is that they have alienated a lot of their base, which is blue collar Americans that they didn’t need to. They have never relaxed their rules until now. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in, but they’re going to have to listen. Instead of putting money into protecting and growing the game of football, they are more interested in growing profit. That has left a scar on so many people. I am a huge fan of the game of football. It kept me in line and I think it plays a huge part of helping out a certain group.
Some Patriots take a kneePhoto Credit: New England Patriots

You played 11 seasons with Tom Brady and were with him when he first stepped onto the field for the first time as a quarterback. Was there a specific play or a time when you knew he was going to be someone to watch?

That’s an interesting question. I remember the Washington game where he became the starter. His prior performance wasn’t a fluke. He was poised and ready.
Tom Brady, Matt Light, Dave TollefsonPhoto Credit: AP Photo/Winslow Townson

What do you miss most about playing football?

I loved the one-on-one battle. I studied engineering at Perdue, so I was always engineering ways to stop that. Football is a violent sport. I know some people can’t watch boxing and some can’t watch football, but I love it. It’s strength; it’s power.
Gronk and Matt 2014Photo Credit: The Light Foundation

And your thoughts on tomorrow night’s game?

They have been prepping so hard the last two weeks. There is a lot of history with Dick LeBeau. Tennessee is not a great football team. Tommy is as focused as any man could be. The only way we would lose, we would have to turn the ball over at certain times, but they should be able to crush Tennessee.
New England Patriots vs. Tennessee TitansPhoto Credit: AP Photo/Joe Howell
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