When Matt Chatham retired from football in February 2009, he knew exactly what the next step in his life was. He had been contemplating the idea while he was still a player, but decided to hold off until after his football career had ended. Chatham wanted to start a business. To be more specific, Chatham wanted to start a crepe business.
"We wanted to be in food somewhere because my wife and I are foodies," Chatham said. "People tend to splurge on sweet treats regardless of what's going on [with the economy]. And we felt that there was a vacancy there with crepes because it's something you'll find in upscale areas, but not something you find in everyday channels."
In order to pursue the business, Chatham decided to go back to school to get his MBA. After living in New England during his career with the Patriots, he and his wife, Erin, decided to return to the area so that he could attend Babson College, which has a top entrepreneurial program.
In March, Chatham and Erin launched a company called SkyCrepers, entering the fast serve crepe business.
A native of Newton, Iowa, Chatham began his football career at Sioux City High, where he earned all-state honors. That led him to the University of South Dakota.
After a standout career at South Dakota, Chatham was signed as a rookie free agent by the St. Louis Rams in 1999. After several transactions, he made his way to the Patriots practice squad. He played six games on special teams during that 2000 season and made enough of an impression to breakthrough during the 2001 season.
Chatham finished third on the team with 12 special teams tackles in 2001 and was an integral part of the first Super Bowl winning team in Patriots history. In 2004, Chatham tackled Carolina kick returner Rod Smart on the final play of Super Bowl XXXVIII to seal New England's second Super Bowl in three years. Chatham also led the team with two special teams tackles in the Patriots' 24-21 win over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Chatham has a tough time choosing a favorite game from his career.
"I think it's a good uncomfortable situation when you've been a part of three championship teams," Chatham said. "It's sort of like with children where you can't choose a favorite. You hold them all very similar, and they are all unique in their own way."
In addition to Chatham's tackle on the final play of Super Bowl XXXVIII, he does have another Super Bowl moment that stands out above others. Chatham tackled a streaker who had made his way onto the field during that same game, a play that ranks in the top 50 of ESPN's Greatest Super Bowl moments.
After his six seasons with New England and three Super Bowl victories, Chatham played one season with the Jets before retiring.
The skills in preparation and hard work that Chatham learned from football have prepared him for his next endeavor.
"It was a great thing having spent six years with Coach Belichick," Chatham said. "Having played football, some people may look at it not as a real business, but I think I'm as prepared as anyone. I'm obsessively compulsive with the preparation and making sure I'm always ready to go."
Although not from the area originally, Chatham decided to return to New England to launch his business. In fact, Chatham has already planned to lease spots in a couple of New England-area malls and hopes to have SkyCrepers up and running before the holiday season.
"The draw in coming back was really easy for my wife and I. We made a lot of good friends in this area, and we really like the people here," he said. "With our business, we're offering local products. Even though I'm not from this area, I've really embraced the whole New England thing."