Watching Matt Light play football it was easy to see how tough he was. But what people didn’t know was how tough he was off the field. As Tom Brady’s left-hand man for 11 years, he has taken out pass-rusher after pass-rusher and protected Brady in five Super Bowls (winning three of them). After much speculation, the four time pro-bowler, officially announced his retirement earlier this month at The Hall at Patriot Place, in front of his friends, family and teammates. Matt Light not only leaves behind big shoes to fill, but a big personality that will be missed in the locker room on Sundays.
It was at his press conference that Matt Light decided to reveal that he had been living (and playing) with Crohn’s disease throughout his entire career. After experiencing minor symptoms while at Purdue, he was officially diagnosed with Crohn’s disease during his rookie year with the Patriots. Crohn’s disease is a gastrointestinal disorder in which the lining of the digestive tract is inflamed, causing pain, bleeding and many other complications. He waited until he was retired to share this secret with the world because he didn’t want pity. He didn’t want people to say “oh, Light should have had that tackle, his Crohn’s must be acting up today.” In fact, it was just the opposite. During the season, Light would not even take his medication, fearing some of the symptoms would interfere with him doing his job. So he just played through the pain.
The pain became so much for Light to handle in the offseason that somedays he could not even get out of bed. In the summer of 2004, while the rest of the team gathered at owner, Robert Kraft’s home to receive their Super Bowl rings, Matt Light was fighting for his life. After seeing several specialists, it was advised that he have 13 inches of his intestine removed. After the surgery there were even more complications that led to Light losing nearly 60 pounds and almost losing his life.
In the years since, Matt Light has not only learned to manage his Crohn’s disease, he’s learned to thrive, “playing some of the best football of his career in 2011″ (according to Bill Belichick). Now that he has stepped away from the game, on his terms, he realizes that he is in a position to make a difference. He wants to use his story to help others who are battling this terrible disease.