FOXBOROUGH — There are a some things Matt Light misses about football.
The people, the pranks, the muddy mid-December mosh pits in the trenches.
There are some things he doesn’t.
The 7:30 meetings that would come the day after a game like Monday night’s. Bright and early with Bill Belichick.
But since Light retired last summer, he’s able to filter it all through different lenses than the ones he wore for 11 seasons as the Patriots’ quirky workman on the offensive line.
He had been at Gillette Stadium for a handful of games over the course of this season, but Monday night was different. He was honored at halftime of the Patriots-Texans game – “If it’s rainy and nasty and mucky, it’s a good day to be honored if you’re an offensive lineman,” he said — and addressed the crowd as one of just five players in Patriots history to play his entire career for the team.
“There’s a lot of things about the game that you don’t miss,” he said. “But you’re reminded of how special all those times were when you try to find something that’s as fulfilling or as challenging in the ‘real world.’ ”
Light has tried his hand as an analyst at ESPN and dived headfirst into his charitable foundation. But post-football life has had its inevitable adjustments and challenges.
“The thing that I miss the most is competing for something on a level most people don’t,” Light said. “You do things with almost a military precision each day — our focus and everything else — it’s really difficult to find that in the real word. Having people that work for me in other businesses and dealing with employees . . . I don’t know how they do that here.’’
Light left with a well-deserved reputation for practical jokes in the locker room.
“You do things to kind of bring everybody together,” he said. “For me, when people are all laughing at a time when for the most part we don’t laugh a lot — when we’re working — those are the moments that stick in your mind. We had a lot of fun over the years. It was real fun.”
Light doesn’t look at the game the way he did when he lived and breathed it every day.
“I see the picture of just a whole bunch of sloppy men running into each other,” Light said. “The rest of it, it’s all blurry.”
When he looks at this Patriots team, even from a distance, he sees one that has the pieces to get back to the Super Bowl again this season.
“Not being in the locker room, you don’t know, but I know there’s a few constants,” he said. “I’d be surprised if they didn’t have what it takes.’’
The distance is good and bad, but Light is enjoying it.
“When you’re not in that locker room, you feel like you’re a million miles away,” Light said. “[Like] when you’re injured and when you’re no longer playing, you’re way on the outside.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.