FOXBOROUGH, Mass -- Amongst those in attendance for Matt Light’s retirement ceremony were 11 of his offensive linemen teammates, some of whom he has shared a unique bond with for a substantial portion of his career
Dan Koppen and Logan Mankins – who like Light have spent the entirety of their careers with the Patriots – fielded questions following the conclusion of Light’s ceremony.
It was clear from both their attendance at the event and the words spoken after it that both have a reverence for Light that extends beyond the field, and that he was much more than just a teammate to them.
Here are a few sound bites from each:
Like Light, Koppen was called upon from an early stage in his rookie season to become a starter. He was asked about what impact Light had on him during his first season as a pro:
“I think we had a little bit of a different year rookie-wise. I think he got yelled at a little bit more than I did, and I think [Mike] Compton got most of the yelling that was supposed to go to him. But I think Scar [offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia] just stopped talking to him. So he told Mike to yell at him for Scar. He comes in and he’ll tell you how it goes and as a rookie you just gotta put your head down and go and be where you’re supposed to be and do what you’re supposed to do and don’t say anything. He’s had a huge influence, especially early on in my career. And when you get out on the field in August, and September and December, when you don’t want to be out there, and you take a look at the guys that you played with for ten years, nine years, they sort of push you along. He was one of those guys.”
On thinking if Light was one of the best teammates he’s ever had:
“You just know. Even the young guys, they came out here and just wanted to be here for him and say goodbye in a sense. But even guys he’s only been known [by] for one year, he’s had a huge impact on them and their careers and how to conduct themselves as a professional, and a guy that just comes in everyday and works hard. He’s just going to be missed. It’s sad, but we’re going to move on.”
One question that many have asked is why Light is choosing to retire at this juncture of his career, given that he remained an effective player on the field in 2011.
Mankins suggested that this decision wasn’t made in haste, as he’s known Light was pondering his retirement for some time, “I’ve known for a while, but I don’t want to get into all the dates and everything. Most of us knew it was coming.”
That meant that leading up to Super Bowl XLVI Mankins was aware that it could be his final game lining up next to Light as his teammate, “Yeah I knew that. We had had some nights after games here celebrating that we had heart-to-heart talks about stuff like that. I think he was sharing it, bouncing it off of people. He knows that we always told him that whatever he felt was right, and we supported him.”
Finally, Mankins touched on the relationship between Light and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, one that was described by Scarnecchia (during a video tribute shown at the ceremony) as love-hate.
“Like you said, love-hate. I think that’s the kind of relationship that a lot of guys have with coaches. And they spend 11 seasons together, and when you’re with someone everyday, you’re not going to always agree on the ways things are going. You always have your idea of how things should go. But they would disagree on things and then would be friends again the next day. That’s how we always went about things, and I know Dante has a world of respect for Matt. He’s seen the way that Matt’s worked and played, and played hurt, played healthy, he’s done it all, so, Dante knows every little detail of what Matt’s went through and that’s why he respects him so much.”