Matt Light: "The First Time I Ever Watched an NFL Game I Was Playing in It"

It shouldn't come as a surprise that former New England Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light would prefer hunting to football on Sundays. After all, he never even watched the sport he wound up excelling in.

"The first time I ever watched an NFL game I was playing in it," Light said from his home in Massachusetts.

On a crisp fall morning in New England while everyone else is gearing up for a day full of football, Light is in the wilderness, sitting in a tree stand, waiting on a big whitetail deer to make its way into his line of site. Once he has eyes on a deer, he only needs it to get within about 40 yards. When it does, he lets an arrow fly. A split second later the carbon-shafted arrow finds its target, and Light will get to "eat like a king and brag like hell."

Over his 11-year NFL career, all spent with the Patriots, Light played in 155 games, won three of the five Super Bowls he played in, was a three-time Pro Bowler and earned a First-Team All-Pro nod in 2007—not bad for a guy who didn't even know where the Patriots were located when they drafted him in the second round, 48th overall, in the 2001 NFL Draft.

"I'll tell you what: Life was a lot slower and easier when I was playing football," Light said with a laugh.

Part of what made life in the NFL so easy for him was being part of the Patriots juggernaut. With a coach like Bill Belichick and a quarterback like Tom Brady, the continuity made things a lot easier.

"Bill would analyze everything," Light said. "He'd analyze the refs, what a team did on third down. Every piece of info you can study– he studied it."

Light also noted that everyone on the New England coaching staff had a hand in helping the Patriots machine run. Whether it was a position coach or a scout team coach, everyone had input and say in how to make the team better.

While everyone on New England benefits from that system, some people try and diminish what Brady has accomplished because of it. They call Brady a "system quarterback" and insinuate that anyone could step in under center for New England and put up Brady's numbers. Light disagrees.

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

"I'm pretty sure all 32 teams operate in some sort of system," Light said. "It's simple to tear down what they don't understand and what they can't beat."

Beating Brady has become as close to impossible as it gets in the NFL. He's gone to the playoffs in 14 of his 15 years as a starter and, by Sunday, has appeared in seven Super Bowls. He's also fourth on the all-time passing yards list, fourth in touchdowns and third in passer rating.

Light's dominance at left tackle was a huge part of Brady's success, although he won't admit that. He points to all the other factors that made Brady a Hall of Famer.

"He's passionate and holds everyone accountable, including himself," Light explained. "And the biggest thing is he knows what it takes to win in the National Football League."

Light got to experience those winning ways right off the bat, going to a Super Bowl in his rookie season. Despite playing in the biggest game of his life during his first NFL season, Light brushed off the notion that it was any different than other games.

"You put a lot more attention into the little things," Light said of playing in the Super Bowl, "but you didn't get where you were trying to reinvent the wheel."

The most difficult part of playing in the Super Bowl, according to Light, was getting friends and family organized so they could be at the game.

"Everything happens at an unbelievable pace," he said. "It's very difficult to manage expectations from family and friends."

Light said along with team preparations for the game, he was on the phone non-stop situating tickets, flights and hotels for his friends and family that wanted to come– none of which come free. "Winners get, what, 65 grand today? And the loser gets 40? That's a major pay cut for these guys," he said. "It can actually end up costing you money to play in the Super Bowl."

The focus on others, even in the lead-up to the biggest games of his life, falls right in line with where Light has gone since leaving the NFL in 2011. Despite his long, successful pro career, Light has taken a small step back from football since his retirement.

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Most of his time during post-playing career has been dedicated to his work for the Light Foundation. His foundation aims to "lead young people down a path to becoming responsible members of their communities who are capable of passing on the torch of leadership and achievement to their friends and families," according to the foundation's website.

He's also getting set to launch "Light Vodka" later this year. Light described it as having a lower alcohol content than regular vodka and said that it "doesn't taste like Russian rocket fuel."

His endeavors outside of football don't mean he's totally removed from the game though. He does host football camps and he'll be in Houston supporting his former coach and quarterback on Super Bowl weekend. In fact, he's inviting fans to join him for the game via a raffle drawing.

At, you can purchase a raffle ticket for one dollar with no limit to how many you can buy. All money goes to the Light Foundation and the Greater Boston Food Bank. The winner of the raffle will receive an all-expense paid trip to Houston for Super Bowl LI. They'll also get to attend the "Taste of the NFL" party on Saturday. Not a bad way to spend the biggest weekend of the football season.

Even five seasons after retirement, Light finds himself getting people squared away for a trip to the Super Bowl. This time, though, he can just sit back and enjoy it while he waits for next fall when he can climb back up in a tree stand and wait for that big whitetail deer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *