Matt Light Reveals Longtime Struggle With Crohn’s Disease

Matt Light Reveals Longtime Struggle With Crohn's DiseaseFOXBORO, Mass. — Matt Light held one of the most high-profile jobs in the NFL for 11 years, actively served in the community and displayed an outgoing sense of humor in front of the camera.

Yet, the former Patriots left tackle hid a huge secret throughout it all. During an interview with ESPN.com, Light revealed Monday that he's been dealing with Crohn's disease since his rookie season in 2001. It got so bad that he missed a portion of training camp in 2004 due to a near-death experience, which resulted in a month in the hospital and a surgical procedure that removed 13 inches of his intestine.

"I basically got to the point, over the 3-4 years of being diagnosed with Crohn's, that I couldn't handle the pain anymore," Light told ESPN.com. "The pain became so difficult that in the offseason it just paralyzed me. I'd hit the ground. You can't wake up. You can't sit down. You can't do anything without this becoming a problem."

Light, who retired Monday, said he kept the disease quiet because he didn't want it to be used as an excuse. For instance, if he had a bad game, he didn't want people pointing to Crohn's as the potential reason. Now, he revealed his condition to raise awareness.

"When you go through a moment like that, when you have a near-death and struggle with things and can relate with other people that struggle with things, you're reminded constantly of how fortunate you are and how blessed you are," Light told ESPN.com.

"That's something I think God put in my path to say, 'Hey, look man, you can go out and do all these things, but the reality of it is that it means squat if you don't remember where you came from and why you're here, and what you can do with it. Think beyond yourself.'"

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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