In 2001, New England's head coach famously tried a rookie offensive lineman at right tackle during the preseason. The brief experiment, Bill Belichick has recalled numerous times since, was a dismal failure. So, Belichick moved the young player to the opposite side of the line, where he went on to start 153 of the next 155 regular season games, plus another 20 playoff starts in as many postseason contests.
Eleven years, three Super Bowl titles, three Pro Bowl selections, and a first-team All Pro honor later, that player – second-round draft choice Matt Light – retired during a ceremony at the Patriots Hall of Fame as a member of the Patriots All-2000s Team and the club's 50th Anniversary Team. This September, Light will take up a new position when he joins 26 other New England legends as the latest inductee to that same Hall at Patriot Place.
For the past month, Patriots fans have visited patriots.com to vote for this year's three finalists for induction into the Hall. Voted closed this past Monday, and the team announced today that the 40-year-old Light had beaten out a pair of three-time Super Bowl champion teammates, defensive end Richard Seymour and linebacker Mike Vrabel, who both played with Light from 2001 through the '08 seasons.
With his extroverted personality, Light quickly became a fan favorite during his New England career, as well as a sought-after media interview subject. During a conference call with reporters shortly after learning of his election to the Hall, Light joked that, for a guy who never had trouble talking to anyone, he was having difficulty putting into words just how special this induction honor means to him.
"It's the biggest honor that I can think of, where you're being recognized by the people in the community and all the fans that really, really understood you. It's hard for me not to bring up the guys that… I look up to and that I feel deserve this award. It's very hard to believe that I am now going to be able to say that I'm a Hall of Famer."
It wouldn't have been a proper conversation with Light without some levity. He shared a humorous anecdote about how he learned that he was elected the 2018 inductee. Light would have found out a day earlier, he explained, but chose to turn his phone off for the day while attending a charitable event and missed the congratulatory phone call from Patriots owner Robert Kraft. When the second call came through today, Light, an avid hunter, said he was in Rhode Island "chasing the elusive wild turkey."
"I didn't have any major dreams growing up as a kid to be an NFL player," Light added on a more serious note, "but I was extremely fortunate not only to make it to the NFL, but make it to an organization that took winning first. Right behind that were so many other things that made my experience extremely special, whether it was the community service side and giving back, and the people that I got to meet, and raising my family here in New England. There are so many things."
In recent years, the Patriots have held the Hall's induction ceremony at the beginning of August, between the start of training camp and the first preseason game. This year, however, Light's ceremony will take place on Saturday, Sept. 29 to coincide with celebrations marking the Hall's 10th anniversary. The Patriots will then host the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium the following afternoon.
Fans are encouraged to attend that weekend's festivities, details of which will be revealed later this year.