Patriots

And then there was Brady

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And then there was Brady

This morning, Matt Light finally delivered the message that we've been expecting all spring

He's retiring.

As they say, he's walking away from the game while he still can, and leaves behind an undeniable legacy. He was Tom Brady's Blind Side. A cornerstone of the Patriots dynasty.

And while it's obviously a little sad to see Light hang them up, you can't help but be happy for the guy. Some players struggle with this kind of decision, but Light is very clearly at peace. He's really looking forward to his life after football.

If you didn't read his farewell message in this week's Monday Morning Quarterback, I highly recommend doing it now. (It's about halfway down the page).

Here's a quick excerpt:

"I didn't grow up wanting to play football. Never thought a college would pay for me to join their team. The draft was just a reason to throw a party and I'd never seen a pro football game in person until I played in one. Yet, this unbelievable journey has provided my family and I with more than we could ever ask for and the ability to help those around us. That is the biggest victory of my career and why I will forever be grateful to the Patriots organization and the NFL."
First of all, I think I know why it took so long for Light to announce his retirement he was writing this letter. (Or maybe I'm just saying that to compensate for insecurities about a professional football player being a gooder writer than I am). Second, just an unbelievably message from Light. Honest. Genuine. I feel like I understand him better at this moment, than I do any athlete in this city. Light completely reveals himself here (in a non-trench coat kind of way), and somehow comes across even more likable than he already was.

However, there's one slightly weird and unfortunate consequence to Light's retirement.

Tom Brady's now the only player left from Super Bowl XXXVI.

I know, I know. Kevin Faulk's still around. But he has as good a chance to make the team as you do. It's only a matter of time until he holds a press conference of his own.

Which leaves Brady as the lone wolf from that original ring, and as one of only four players to win any kind of ring in New England. (Other 3: Dan Koppen, Vince Wilfork and Deion Branch, who's no guarantee to make the team either).

In a way, it makes sense that there are so few champions left at Gillette. It's been seven years since the Pats won it all, and the length of the average NFL career is about 15 minutes. And at the same time, it's only fitting that Brady and Belichick are the only two dominant figures that remain from the night the Pats shocked the world in New Orleans.

Still, it's just crazy to think back on all that's happened and ultimately changed in the 10 years since. It makes me feel very old.

Not as old as Matt Light feels after 11 years of playing left tackle in the NFL, but here's to getting out before it's too late.

On that note, I'd like to announce my retirement from CSNNE.com.

Press conference coming tomorrow.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Jags safety says Gronk hit was unavoidable

Jags safety says Gronk hit was unavoidable

FOXBORO -- During the tail end of the season, Rob Gronkowski was probably the league’s most unstoppable skill player. If any team was going to beat the Patriots, it needed to stop Gronk.

The Jaguars stopped Gronk on Sunday. They still didn’t win.

PATRIOTS 24, JAGUARS 20

The Patriots tight end was driven from the game by a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church. Gronk, running down the seam on a first-and-10 play with 1:28 left in the half, was hammered by Church, who really didn’t have a lot of options on the play. The throw was too up-for-grabs for Church to ignore the chance of picking it off. And by the time a pick was out of the question, the collision was inevitable.

“I just tried to dislodge the ball,” Church explained. “He’s a big dude and I was just trying to dislodge the ball but I gueess they felt it was too high of a hit. I hope he’s healthy. I know he didn’t come back so I hope he’s alright. It was a tough call but you have to go with what they call. It’s the toughest play in football.  If you go low for the knees you are considered a dirty player and if you go high, they throw the flag at you. It’s a bang-bang play and I was just trying to play football. I tried to lead with my shoulder.”

Gronk was slow to rise and when he did, he was unsteady. Teammate Chris Hogan kept Gronk steady until he got some assistance to the sideline. From there, we was squired to the locker room and into the concussion protocol. He didn’t return.

The hit, the flag and the fact the Patriots would soon score a touchdown to chew into the Jaguars lead caused the inevitable discussion of what Chruch was supposed to do on that play.

Church had the same debate himself.

“It’s tough, that guy s humongous,” said Church. “If you wait for him to catch it and bring it down, he might run you over. You have to go with it and try and hit him in the right target zone but, going 100 MPH, that is nearly impossible.”

Gronk wasn’t spotted in the locker room after the game. He’ll have checkpoints to pass before he’s cleared to play in Super Bowl 52. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

First look at Tom Brady's injured thumb

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First look at Tom Brady's injured thumb

Apparently there was a miscommunication of sorts during Patriots practice this week.

Reports of gushing blood and Brady screaming in pain left many wondering what type of shape Tom Brady was in.

It turned out that he was just fine and ready to go, leading the Patriots to yet another comeback postseason victory.

But a first look at Brady's thumb was finally captured by an Associated Press photographer after tonight's game.

The collision occurred during a handoff and Brady needed 12 stiches, it also injured the collateral ligament in his thumb.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE