FOXBORO — Matt Light couldn’t refute the story. He remembered it the same way.
During Rob Ninkovich’s retirement press conference on Sunday, he recalled his first practice in New England. It was 2009. He felt like his NFL career was hanging by a thread. He knew he had to turn some heads, and he got the opportunity to do just that when he lined up across from Matt Light during three consecutive one-on-one pass-rush drills.
Ninkovich happily recalled winning three consecutive reps against the team’s longtime starter at left tackle, which caught the eye of both Dante Scarnecchia and Bill Belichick. Calling during a break from some early-morning work in rural Ohio, Light said the story was 100 percent accurate — but he jokingly added a wrinkle of his own.
“Rob was a guy I respected and admired,” Light said. “He tells that story of the first day, and it happened exactly like that. First rep of one-on-ones in pass pro, he smokes me. Second rep? Smokes me. Third rep? Smokes me. But he made the team, and as a fellow Purdue guy, we needed as many of those guys — intelligent, good-looking — that we could possibly get on our team. So of course I let him have those.”
Light added: “I’m going to tell you this much, man. He showed up that day and of course I knew of Rob. I never got to spend much time with him. We were kind of two ships passing with respect to Purdue. But I sure as heck wasn’t awake that morning. I quickly started paying a lot more attention after that first day. I tell you, he came in loaded for bear, and there’s times in practice where you’re not ready and you’re not dialed up, and he…
click here to read the rest of this story