Offensive tackle Matt Light was given a regal sendoff into retirement by the New England Patriots on Monday after 11 seasons as the team's starting left tackle.
"Matt has been the definition of a dependable, durable, consistent player," said coach Bill Belichick.
Light, 33, officially retired April 24, when New England Patriots placed him on the reserve/retired list after weeks of speculation. Light said he had known since before Super Bowl XLVI that he wouldn't play another game.
"I can't begin to tell you how great this has been," Light said, directing his comments to Belichick and owner Robert Kraft.
Quarterback Tom Brady said in a video tribute that he plans to talk Light out of retirement, calling him one of his favorite teammates. The entire offensive line and coordinator Josh McDaniels attended the ceremony.
Light played his entire career with the Patriots after the team selected him in the second round out of Purdue in the 2001 draft. Belichick said Monday the Patriots traded to get ahead of the Jets, who drafted Kareem McKenzie a few picks later.
He started immediately as a rookie and the Patriots upset the Rams to win the Super Bowl. Belichick said that wasn't Light's best season, but he survived. Light started in five Super Bowls -- only Brady has done the same for the Patriots -- and won three.
Light had '19 mental errors" in 2001, but became more and more reliable as an anchor of the Patriots' line. He had only two in his final season, according to Belichick.
Technically, Light could reverse course and rejoin the team. But speaking Monday from the Patriots Hall of Fame and looking much slimmer, he said not to expect him back on the field, no matter how much he wants to return for his teammates.
"I played the game to be alongside guys like you," he said, adding that Kevin Faulk, Logan Mankins and other veterans taught him what it meant to be a professional.
Light plans to dedicate much of his retirement life to his charitable foundation, which operates a 400-acre site that benefits youth with team-building and training programs to "lead young people down a path to becoming responsible members of their communities."