INDIANAPOLIS — It's the first thing you notice about Matt Light, other than the 300 pounds of muscle and facial hair.
It's wide and it's real.
"I don't know why I smile so much," said the New England Patriots left tackle. "Maybe it's because I like my life."
There's a lot to like about Light, too, besides his penchant for one-liners: "I feel horrible about (missing Media Day on Tuesday because of the stomach flu). I do. And I love spending time with you guys."
One thing that isn't funny is Light's mark on this franchise. Tom Brady has been one of the NFL's most durable quarterbacks under Light's watch.
While coach Bill Belichick and Brady are forever linked as the cornerstones of the Patriots dynasty — five Super Bowl appearances in 11 seasons — the bond on the field between Brady and Light can't be overlooked either.
"It's incredible when you think about it. Matt's been there as long as I have," said Brady, who arrived in New England in 2000, one year prior to Light. "I trust him. I always have. He's just a great guy and a hard worker. I've been very lucky to have him at left tackle."
Left tackle might not sound special, but behind quarterback it might be the most important position in the game. The fact the Patriots drafted Nate Solder in the first round attests to that. When you find one you hope to write his name in the starting lineup for a decade or longer.
At Belichick's introductory press conference back in January of 2000, he was asked about his philosophy in rebuilding the Patriots.
He said nothing about a young, handsome franchise quarterback.
First and foremost, he said the "new" Patriots needed to be tougher and the offensive and defensive lines are where he would start.