On any team that becomes a dynasty, there are a group of stars. The quarterback, the running back, the star receiver, but behind those victories are a group of unnoticed men who made it all happen. This underappreciated group are often called “cows” or mooed at when passing but to any quarterback, they’re his best friends.
For the New England Patriots, Tom Brady has been that star quarterback and his offensive line has been anchored by left tackle Matt Light. Drafted the same year that Brady became the Patriots starting quarterback, this 300 pound Purdue alum has kept the face of the franchise upright and healthy for the majority of the past 11 years.
While most fans don’t pay much attention to men in the trenches, the Patriots do. Light was named to the team’s All-2000s Team and to the 50th Anniversary Team. More so, when the 3-time pro bowler announced his intention to retire, the team decided to have a retirement ceremony at the Patriots Hall of Fame which is something only done for the elite members of the franchise. In fact, Light’s ceremony is the first one to be held there.
Brady always remembered the importance of his blindside protector as well. When Light was a free agent in 2011 and with a first round pick having been used at the position, the 2-time MVP made it clear that Light was who he wanted behind him. Brady told reporters, “I love Matt. Matt’s one of my favorite players I’ve ever played with. He’s a great guy, great for this team, great in the community. I can’t say enough about Matt.”
Whether he was defending Brady from star defensive ends like Jason Taylor or Dwight Freeney or continuing a feud with Osi Umenyiora, Light always was the personality of the team. Known on the team as the prankster, when he hit the field he was all business. Each year since Brady and Light have been on the Patriots, the team’s been among the league leaders in least sacks allowed.
People generally don’t hear about the big men who keep the stars clean. They’re like the officials; the better they are the less you hear about them. However, occasionally one comes along that’s too good to ignore. The big crowd that gathered at the Patriots Hall of Fame couldn’t ignore the guest of honor Monday morning. When the 2012 season starts, there will a new blindside protector for Brady and the absence of number 72 will be noticed.