Does Matt Light belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
My instincts said no, but I sat down last night hoping to prove otherwise and with three very powerful bullets in my wanna-be revolver.
1. Light won three rings, and is one of only five players to start five Super Bowls.
2. He was an essential part of what will eventually be known as one of the signature dynasties in NFL history, and the Hall of Fame likes rewarding legendary teams.
3. He was the almost-exclusive blind side protection for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
With that I was off and very quickly deflated.
That's not to say that at some point down the line, 20-25 years from now, once Belichick, Brady, Wilfork, Law, Harrison, Vinatieri, Seymour, Poteat, Klemm and whomever else from this historic run is comfortably nestled in Canton, that the Veteran's Committee won't look at Light and say, "You know what? He had a great career these other players love him he seems like a great guy let's put him in!"
But I'm saying that's probably the only chance he has.
In the last 15 years, only seven tackles have been inducted to the Hall:
What's interesting is that these seven guys have a combined three Super Bowl rings among them. (White won two with Dallas; Zimmerman won one with Denver).
Fifteen years. Seven Hall of Fame tackles. Just as many rings combined as Light has by himself.
But here's where the argument loses steam:
Munoz made nine All-Pro teams and 11 Pro Bowls. Yary made six All-Pro teams and seven Pro Bowls. Slater made zero All-Pros but seven Pro Bowls. Brown made six and seven, White made three and six, Zimmerman made three and seven and Roaf made three and 11.
To sum it up, everyone but Slater was an All-Pro at least three times, and they all made at least six Pro Bowls.
Matt Light made one All-Pro team and three Pro Bowls.
That's not enough.
Football may be a team sport, but the Hall of Fame is an individual honor. Rings are nice, but personal accomplishments and dominance matter more. And while Light was undoubtedly steady for his 11 years on Tom Brady's blind side, and as a Pats fan, you probably couldn't have asked for more, as an individual football talent, Light falls short.
When you go back and think of the dominant left tackles of the last decade you think of guys like Walter Jones, Jonathan Ogden, Orlando Pace, Roaf and Chris Samuels before you think of Light, and there's already a new batch of young talent Joe Thomas, Chris Long ready to carry that torch for the next generation. No. 72 is on the outside looking in.
As for being one of five players to start five Super Bowls?
That's nice, but there's no Hall of Fame precedent for reaching that milestone.
Of the four other guys in the Five Start Club, only two John Elway and Brady (I think its safe now) are in the Hall of Fame. The other two are Charles Haley, who's not in the Hall, but probably would be if he hadn't been such a horrible person in his playing days, and Cornelius Bennett, who just never made the cut. (It didnt help that he went 0-5 in his five Super Bowl starts.)
It would be one thing if all four were in there. And it would be an entirely different story if Asante Samuel had made that interception in Arizona or Wes Welker had pulled down that catch in Indianapolis, and Light waded into the Hall of Fame pool with four or five rings. But the five starts aren't enough.
And as for protecting Brady's blindside? We'll never forget Light for the job he did, but Bubba Paris protected Joe Montana's blind side for eight seasons and three Super Bowls, and he's still waiting. Light had a better career (although not a better name) than Paris, but again, the precedent isn't there. Protecting the best of all time is not a Hall of Fame guarantee.
And for a guy like Light, who never even planned on playing college football, that's not such a bad thing. The fact that the question "Does Matt Light belong in the Hall of Fame?" even exists says so much about his career.
But still, not as much as those three rings and 11 years of unbelievable memories.