Light, the team's left tackle for 11 years, announced his retirement Monday in front of a packed crowd at the team's Hall of Fame. Patriots owner Robert Kraft predicted Light will be in the spotlight of another big event at the Hall in a few years.
Light just completed one of the best seasons of his career, so his decision to retire was somewhat surprising, even though it had been anticipated for some time. Light will turn 34 next month, and he said it was important to be able to walk away from the game with his health intact, particularly since he wants to spend more time with his family, which includes a wife and three kids.
"One of the things that was very apparent over the last couple seasons was it takes a lot longer to recover the older you get," Light said. "Really, during that six, seven, eight months of football season, it really became very difficult for me to give much outside of a 'Hi' or a 'Goodnight' or a 'Good morning' to my family. That's always been really important to me.
"And to be quite honest with you, I really had this sense of just being grateful for the experience. I remember in 2011, this past season, there was a different mindset. Maybe that's why I enjoyed some success out there, to whoever's degree. But I really just felt like, 'Man, I am just blessed to be a part of this.' And it made that season so memorable and so much fun. Knowing that, for me, when I finally close the chapter, I don't look back. I am truly grateful."
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spent 10 minutes reflecting upon Light's career, and he noted it didn't get off to a fast start. Belichick, who traded up in front of the Jets to draft Light because he was convinced they'd select an offensive lineman, immediately placed Light at right tackle. After Belichick realized the experiment wasn't working, Light suffered an injury that kept him out for a few weeks, and when he finally returned to action, he was late for a couple of team meetings that landed him on the bench.
Belichick noted how far Light had progressed, citing 19 mental errors (a statistic compiled by the coaching staff) during his rookie season, and just two in 2011.
"As [offensive line coach] Dante [Scarnecchia] would say, I didn't know if the ball was pumped or stuffed," Light quipped.
Once things smoothed out, Light became Tom Brady's personal protector. Light is also the only left tackle in history to start five Super Bowls, and he was a three-time Pro Bowler and nine-time AFC East champion.
Light was also incredibly popular in the locker room, and he was supported at the ceremony by a host of offensive linemen, including left guard Logan Mankins and center Dan Koppen. Brady wasn't in attendance, but he did have a prominent role on a tribute video that played during the ceremony.
Belichick's personal reflection was the highlight of the show, as he offered various stories that shed light on the left tackle's career, both on and off the field. The Patriots will miss Light in each area, but they know his greatest production always came on Sundays.
"Nobody was more consistent, more dependable, more of a guy that you could count on to coach than this guy has been for the last 11 years," Belichick said. "He's been a tremendous player for us, a tremendous resource for our team."