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Matt Light reveals battle with Crohn’s disease

Bill Belichick, Matt Light AP

Some have wondered why Patriots tackle Matt Light decided to retire after only 11 years in the NFL.  The truth is that he could have been out of the league much sooner.

Light revealed on Monday night to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com that Light has been battling Crohn’s disease for several years — and that he nearly died due to the disease in 2004.

It was one of the darkest periods in my life,” Light explained, referring to a series of surgeries that kept him in the hospital for 30 days.

“I basically got to the point, over the 3-4 years of being diagnosed with Crohn’s, that I couldn’t handle the pain anymore,” Light said regarding a decision to have 13 inches of his colon removed in 2004.  “The pain became so difficult that in the offseason it just paralyzed me.  I’d hit the ground.  You can’t wake up.  You can’t sit down.  You can’t do anything without this becoming a problem.”

Complications caused him to drop from 315 pounds to 260.  “That happened in June, and I made it to training camp in the third week [of August], but not without having literally a near-death experience where I had another blockage post-surgery that I wasn’t aware of — all these complications.”

Light said he’s disclosing the condition now because he ultimately was able to leave football without Crohn’s disease forcing him out.

“It’s not to tell the story as ‘woe is me’ — I could care less about that — but when you go through something like that and it’s that wild of a time . . . I always wanted to finish the game of football and go out on my terms and the way I wanted to do it.”

Light learned he had the disease during his rookie year.

“I knew I had some issues in 2001, due to some bleeding and where I was finding that,” Light said. “People that have it know, whether it’s using the restroom or all the other things that come along with it, the pain that comes along with it and how it affects people, it’s just a very ugly disease.”

Light’s decision to reveal his struggle serves as an example to others with the condition that life can still be lived at a very high level.

“A lot of people suffer from gastrointestinal disorders, and it’s something that if you have the right mindset . . .  I always went into things saying, ‘I can beat anything.’ I’ve gotten down, very depressed, very angry about having this thing looming over me for so long, but at the end of the day, there is always something you can do,” Light said.

“Staying positive and knowing there were times where I told myself, ‘This is just what it is’ and you have to push through it, I think that all helped strengthen me to the point I am today.  So, in some respect, dealing with that issue maybe kept me in the game longer.  It’s been a part of my life, for sure.”

We wish Light the best in his retirement, and we congratulate him on his decision to share his story.  It will indeed be an inspiration to those who are living with the disease, in any of its various forms and degrees of severity.

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36 Responses to “Matt Light reveals battle with Crohn’s disease”
  1. ham1 says: May 8, 2012 1:27 PM

    Brady will miss that warrior. Did his job, never complained once, and dag, in my book a throwback. He was a heck of a player.

  2. ken0west says: May 8, 2012 1:32 PM

    I wonder what word play Welker has in mind for her presser on Lights retirement.

  3. nflofficeadmin says: May 8, 2012 1:36 PM

    Knowing this makes me think this guy should be in the HOF. That’s incredible.

  4. 1972dolphins says: May 8, 2012 1:36 PM

    unfortunately that’s what happens when u take steroids hence the thick beards of all patriots offensive linemen

  5. joetoronto says: May 8, 2012 1:37 PM

    Good choice, Matt.

    All the best.

  6. nineroutsider says: May 8, 2012 1:38 PM

    Man that’s rough. My uncle had it for years before it led to colon cancer and his death, so I’ve seen how rough it can be. Hell, I just recovered from a colon abscess that was very painful and unpleasant. My whole family on my dad’s side has battled colon issues of some sort. I wish him the best as it sucks – wouldn’t wish on it on anyone!

  7. bunjy96 says: May 8, 2012 1:40 PM

    Human’s have illness, some of them very serious and live threatening. Never heard him whine or whimper.

    Not like some who have a hang nail and can’t practice because of it.

  8. beelicker says: May 8, 2012 1:41 PM

    Everyone should seriously educate themselves on the effects of dietary INFLAMMATION (of which Crohn’s would be one of the most severe) via products Big Ag foists on us all as consumers, particularly the unnatural GMO varieties of wheat that are the staples of today.

    Refined sugar (to include HFCS), flours & most vegetable oils (mostly due to too much omega-6 vs omega-3 ratio) are not only effectively poisons to our digestive systems, but they’re also effectively addictive as well.

    These rackets make so much money effectively poi$oning us & then buying up the pharma properties to patent drugs that merely address the symptoms that they, themselves, are creating. Horizontal integration at its finest!

    Do some searches on the keywords in the first 2 paragraphs above & start connecting the dots for yourself …

  9. thankheavenfornumberseven says: May 8, 2012 1:47 PM

    That is a terrible disease. It’s amazing that he could play in the NFL with that.

  10. johnmcfarlannnn says: May 8, 2012 1:50 PM

    Hated him as a football player since I’m a Jets fan and he gave Brady all the time in the world to tear us up, but really respect him as a person now. Good luck to him in his retirement.

  11. depleted00uranium00balth says: May 8, 2012 1:50 PM

    Whoa, I have CD and that is incredible that he could stay in the NFL with symptoms that bad. It makes it hard to keep weight up, and it also make your body weak from systemic inflammation. Amazing.

  12. blacknole08 says: May 8, 2012 1:52 PM

    Wow he played his whole career with Crohn’s disease? 3 SB wins, Brady’s blind side protector. Wish him the best. He’s a class act and will be missed.

  13. joetoronto says: May 8, 2012 1:53 PM

    Right on, beelicker.

    I’m taking enzymes with all processed foods, because the processing removes the natural enzymes in the food.

  14. rebel21das says: May 8, 2012 2:00 PM

    That is just insane, what a beast to be able to pull that off in the NFL, and you never heard a peep from him about it until he retired, that is class act to the max. He was always on of my favorites on the team, hell he was the blindside blocker for Brady for all those years. I just can’t believe that he was battling that ugly disease while playing. Hope he gets a shot a being in the NFL Hall Of Fame, he has enough Pro Bowl trips, and Championship rings to help the cause and now this….. I think this helps seal the deal. Matt Light you will be missed, and good luck with you journey in life after football.

  15. pastabelly says: May 8, 2012 2:02 PM

    Light is not a Hall of Famer. But he was consistently very good for such a long period. It doesn’t surprise me that a guy like that was able to fight off Crohn’s and have that type of career. You have to wonder how much it impacted him as he was never a really big tackle.

    He’ll be missed. He must have told Belichick about the retirement well over a year ago as the team drafted Solder to learn from him and replace him.

  16. patriots55 says: May 8, 2012 2:02 PM

    Go out like a champ have a good retirement

  17. CKL says: May 8, 2012 2:14 PM

    What’s more amazing is how he could keep this on the down low his whole career. I thought BB was good at not telling the media anything! He’s got nothing on Matty L.

    He was sometimes unfairly criticized by even some Pats fans ( I always thought he was a good LT, maybe not elite but good) but there’s no denying the guy is a first class example of “DO YOUR JOB.”

  18. alewatcher says: May 8, 2012 2:19 PM

    I know a couple people with CD, and it can be incredibly debilitating. The fact he was able to play at such a high level for so long is a tribute to his toughness.

    I’ve had two surgeries for intestinal blockages, so I can fully relate to what he went through.

  19. vilelabyrinth says: May 8, 2012 2:23 PM

    I saw just how bad this disease gets…watched it kill my aunt. I can only send my positive thoughts his way..i hope you get well sir!

  20. kammich says: May 8, 2012 2:50 PM

    I am 25 years old and I’ve had Crohn’s for 14 years. I have been rushed to the hospital well over 50 times and still consistently struggle maintaining a “normal” life, so I have the UTMOST respect for people like Matt Light(as well as David Garrard, who also suffers from Crohn’s) who operate with the mindset that they will not let their disease beat them. It is the same mindset I’ve adopted for the past several years, and sometimes it seems nigh-on impossible to stay positive. But stories like this help.

    Congrats on a great career, Matt. You’re an inspiration for people like me.

  21. juliusanonymous says: May 8, 2012 2:52 PM

    I’ve got Crohn’s as well. My suggestion to anyone suffering from it: try medical marijuana as soon as you can. It works FAR better than the steroids, etc. Probably the only legitimate use of medical marijuana. It really does help. My symptoms have been under control for a while now. Also, sticking to a diet consisting of ONLY lean proteins, vegetables, low-GI starches (sweet potatoes, quinoa, etc).

  22. packerfantastic says: May 8, 2012 2:53 PM

    @beelicker,

    You are correct. My daughter was 12 when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. We rejected the advice of Mayo Clinic, who wanted to treat her with steroids and other drugs that have serious long term effects. Instead, we treated it through diet which included eliminated processed sugar, unhealthy oils, fast food (there is NOTHING healthy at McDonald’s or Burger King and the like), etc.

    We raise our own beef, chicken, and goats and buy as much organic, GMO-free food as we can. Her health, and the rest of our family’s, is far better as a result.

  23. thraiderskin says: May 8, 2012 2:59 PM

    Not one person can question his toughness, for what his (playing) position requires both in strength resistance and body mass, it is actually amazing. You’re awesome Mr. Light.

  24. pftcensorssuck says: May 8, 2012 3:26 PM

    Light was an amazing player, as Tom Brady’s health and effectiveness can attest to.

    Enjoy the rest of your non-football years, Matt, and thanks for your part in three Lombardi’s!

    Having done that with such a debilitating disease is simply incredible! I saw a relative die at 62 from Crohn’s Disease, after suffering for so many years.

    If there were a way to factor that in to the Hall of Fame qualifications, Light would be a lock!

  25. beelicker says: May 8, 2012 3:51 PM

    The newer infused-inulin (fiber) spore-based intestinal healthy bacteria supplements seem to be much more effective than the older probiotic formulas along these lines too.

    People really should seriously attempt to maximize their intestinal health because the lack of optimal (healthy) environment there allows the frequently undigestible processed food to leak into the bloodstream where the body treats it as an all-out attack on the immune system. Think of it as your wonderful immune system treating the very ‘food’ you eat as an invading disease organism!

    As a side ‘benefit’, this state of metabolic/behavioral excitation also renders you more susceptible to the amygdala-hijacking (google that) mind-control techniques used by modern mass impulse-driving manipulation (Madison ave/political coercion).

    Our bodies were never designed or evolved to utilize the ultra-refined mechanized agriculture products widely available today. A good rule of thumb is if a caveman couldn’t find it in his diet you’d be best served to think 2-3 times before you eat very much of it.

  26. 1historian says: May 8, 2012 4:18 PM

    Pastabelly: Your 2:02 post “Light is not a hall of famer.”

    Wrong

    But your handle is excellent

    Have a nice day

  27. patsfiend says: May 8, 2012 4:52 PM

    1972dolphins says:
    May 8, 2012 1:36 PM
    unfortunately that’s what happens when u take steroids hence the thick beards of all patriots offensive linemen
    ———
    Mercury Morris has entered the building. Go back to ’72, Mercury.

  28. 1972dolphins says: May 8, 2012 5:02 PM

    the truth hurts those who have to cheat to win spygate and years of cheating when he coaches browns he sucks then he goes to patriots all of a sudden he is great

  29. hebertespinosa says: May 8, 2012 5:31 PM

    Best of luck to Light and his health. Great career and a good character. Time to live the other joys of life.

  30. vipod4ever says: May 8, 2012 5:50 PM

    I have Crohn’s & Colitis, and played college ball. It’s incredible he did it for so long at that level. I’m 43 now, and most days are painfull, but with the right diet, exercise, and medication you just make it through the day. btw….1972Dolphin, get educated before you comment.

  31. patsfiend says: May 8, 2012 5:52 PM

    What? Your reply is so laced with inaccuracies it’s not even worth of a retort. Please look upward and see this article is about a great guy who fought through a very serious illness to have a solid NFL career. Take your BB / CameraInTheWrongPlaceGate nonsense back to the Mangini / Harbaugh posts, troll.

  32. 1972dolphins says: May 8, 2012 6:47 PM

    Everything is accurate u idiot steroids r 1 of the causes of it.If he chose to take steroids anything that happens to him is is own fault and ur coach

  33. bpfpft says: May 8, 2012 6:54 PM

    What an impressive career and an impressive person. Knowing he was as good as he was while battling Crohn’s is amazing.

  34. tigerlilac says: May 8, 2012 7:28 PM

    I don’t usually give to charities set up by sports figures but I gave to Light’s a couple of years ago. There was just something about the guy that that struck me as real (and I am not even a gun guy like Matt). I am glad I did and would suggest any of you that can dig in to show your appreciation.

    http://www.mattlightfoundation.org/

  35. kab1990 says: May 8, 2012 7:36 PM

    @1972Dolphins Where did you get you phd? Because my husband has had Crohn’s since he was a kid. He was miss diagnosed until it almost killed him in 1996 and again last year. Steriods are a form of treatment. Crohn’s is an Auto-immune system disease. My husband nor my cousins who all 3 have it where not taking steriods when they where 10. There is no known cause for Crohn’s. I am far from a Pat’s fan but don’t talk crap about a disease you know nothing about. People with Crohn’s can’t even get life insurance because it’s concidered a pre-cancer. People have it in varing degrees, but when it’s bad as you would rather die than eat. I say this as the caregiver of a man who has now has a illiostomy (this means they removed his entire large intestine and rectum) so that they could save his life. He had put this off for over 10 year and has spent most of the past year in the hospital. Steriods do not cause this it is a treatment. Educate yourself before you speak, because I can proof what I am saying with any number of docutments and case studies(which my husbands case has been writen about) can you?

  36. clubshred says: May 8, 2012 9:36 PM

    I have had Crohns for 20+ years, have had my colon and quite a bit of intestines removed and I live a very normal life. I watch what I eat, take my meds, and enjoy life!!! I tried many types of medicines, but finally, surgery was my fix and I am glad I did it. It didn’t cure my Crohns, but it made my life worth living.

    To the bozo, 1972dolphins, your an idiot!!

    Matt, your a hero!!!!!!

    kab1900, I appluad your husband. I have envolved with research for years, I donate blood for research to help find out whats causes and what cures Crohn’s….It’s a nasty disease!!!

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