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June 23 in Pats History: Matt Light and Larry Whigham

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Sep 26th

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jmt57

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Today in Patriots History
Matt Light


Happy 43rd birthday to Matt Light
Born June 23, 1978 in Greenville, Ohio
Patriot LT, 2001-2011; uniform #72
Pats 2nd round (48th overall) pick of the 2001 draft, from Purdue




The man that Ron Borges infamously stated that the Patriots "settled for and would not help any time soon" was a starter his rookie season, as the Patriots went on to defeat the Rams in Super Bowl 36. That was the first of three rings Matt Light would earn, as he would proceed to play in 155 games for the Pats, plus 20 playoff games. The Pats went 15-5 with Light protecting Tom Brady's blindside in the postseason, and he was named to three Pro Bowls - despite battling Crohn's disease.




Matt Light was named to the Patriots All-2000s Team, the Pats 50th Anniversary Team, and in 2018 he was inducted to the Patriots Hall of Fame. Light spends much of his time working with underprivileged and at risk youth, something he has done since very early in his playing days for the Patriots.
















 

jmt57

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Today in Patriots History
Larry Whigham


Happy 49th birthday to Larry Whigham
Born June 23, 1972 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Patriot Special Teamer and Safety, 1994-2000; uniform #25
Signed off the Seattle practice squad on September 13, 1994

Long before Matt Slater and just before Larry Izzo, there was Larry Whigham. He was a originally a fourth round pick out of Northeast Louisiana (now known as Louisiana-Monroe) by the Seahawks. The Pats signed him as a free agent two weeks into the '94 season after releasing Jason Carthen (who would become more well known as a radio personality and public speaker). Whigham became a two-time All Pro for his special team play, and arguably the best gunner in the NFL for a few years after Steve Tasker began to slow down. Larry played in 106 games with the Patriots, with five starts and four interceptions as their nickel and dime back. Three of those picks came off Dan Marino, including a 60-yard touchdown in a much needed 27-24 victory on November 23, 1997.








"Troy (Brown) and I are this team's utility men" he said. "Right now neither one of us have done enough to convince the coaches we should be on the field all the time so we're trying to make things happen when we get out there."​

Not surprisingly Brown and Whigham have traveled similar difficult roads to the NFL.​

Whigham, a fourth round draft pick by Seattle in 1994, signed with the Pats' after being dropped from the Seahawks' practice squad. Brown, an eighth-round selection of the Pats in '93 was waived in '94 before being re-signed two years later.​

"When you get a second chance to make it in the NFL after you've been released, you're going to really fight for a job" said Whigham. "Troy and I really were both very determined the second time around."​

Whigham, who hardly did anything to get noticed as a rookie, began emerging as the Pats' special teams leader in '95 when he racked up 13 tackles and recovered a fumbled punt return by then-teammate David Meggett.​

But it wasn't until the following season that the 6-foot-2 205-pound native of Hattiesburg Miss. became a disruptive force in kicking situations.​

Whigham made 20 tackles, blocked a punt (which Tedy Bruschi returned for a touchdown), forced a fumble (which Corwin Brown returned for a touchdown) and downed three punts inside opponents' 10-yard lines.​

The only downsides of the season were his failure to crack the starting lineup and the way it ended -- in a 35-21 Super Bowl loss to Green Bay.​

Whigham got to play more in five- and six-defensive back sets last season and he responded with a career-best 19 defensive tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble.​

The highlight came in late November when he twice picked off passes by Miami's Dan Marino, returning one of them 60 yards for a touchdown.​

"That was a revenge situation for me" he said. "Two seasons before when I was working on a starting job Marino exploited me in a big way in our game at Miami, and I've been a backup ever since. Besides, Marino was always my mother's favorite quarterback."​



Larry Whigham missed just four games in seven years with New England. Unfortunately he was released prior to the 2001 season because Bill Belichick did not want to give Tebucky Jones, who was going to start for the first time, added pressure with Whigham behind him. As a result he never had the chance to play for that 2001 championship team and receive a Super Bowl ring. Whigham went on to play for the Bears for two seasons and retired after the 2002 season. He is a very deserving member of the Patriots All-1990s Team.




Front Row: Corwin Brown (S-30), Ty Law (CB-24), Bill Belichick, Scooter McGruder (CB-27), Jimmy Hitchcock (CB-31). Back row: Vernon Lewis (DB-43),
Otis Smith (CB-45), Lawyer Milloy (SS-36), Larry Whigham (DB-25), Willie Clay (FS-32), Terry Billups (CB-23), Ricky Reynolds (CB-21), Jerome Henderson (CB-26).
 

Pape

In the Starting Line-Up
The chants of Larry Larry Larry used to echo of of the south end zone of Foxboro Stadium... #25, Larry Whigham would often cruise by the end zone, interacting with us fans... week in week out... Every time he was on the field he exhorted the fans to make noise...

Truly one of my all time favorite Patriot players...

It was a crying shame he was kicked for Tebucky Jones, who was a freaking joke of a player...



 
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jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Today in Patriots History
More June 23 Birthdays


Happy 51st birthday to Mike Bartrum
Born June 23, 1970 in Gallipolis, Ohio
Patriot LS/TE, 1996-1999; uniform #86
Acquired in trade from Packers on August 25, 1996 for past considerations

Mike Bartrum was a precursor to Mike Vrabel: with the Pats he had only four receptions but two were for touchdowns. Over his career the Marshall grad (and teammate of Troy Brown) had 11 receptions with six touchdowns; Vrabel is the only player with more TD and fewer than 15 receptions in NFL history.

Aside from being known as a precision long snapper throughout his career, among his his highlights in New England included a one-yard TD reception from Drew Bledsoe on October 6, 1996 in a 46-38 victory over the Ravens in Baltimore; two weeks later his first career forced fumble on the punt coverage team at Indy, which was recovered by Marrio Grier and converted into a Curtis Martin touchdown in a 27-9 win; and a fumble recovery for a turnover in the 20-6 AFCCG victory over Jacksonville on January 12, 1997.

Bartrum was so accurate with his long snaps that a Philadelphia television affiliate filmed him with some stunts:




Happy 46th birthday to Chris Floyd
Born June 23, 1975 in Detroit
Patriot FB, 1988-2000; uniform #37

Pats 3rd round (81st overall) selection of the 1988 draft, from Michigan




Chris Floyd was part of Michigan's 1997 national championship team, in the backfield primarily blocking for Chris Howard and Anthony Thomas. Floyd played in all 16 games with two starts in his rookie season, used mostly on special teams. After an attempt to find a role for Floyd at tight end failed, Bill Belichick cut Floyd in late November of 2000. The finale was not pretty; it was a penalty filled game in Detroit in front of Floyd's hometown friends and family that dropped the Pats record to 3-9.

Floyd totaled 14 rushes for 33 yards in 40 games for New England, with four receptions for 43 yards. He played two more games in 2000 with Cleveland, and then his pro football career was over. As of 2012 Floyd was back in Ann Arbor, working in the Parks and Recreation Department in the day and as a bouncer at night.

On a side note, the first link above lays out the reality of how bad the drafts were for the Patriots in the three Pete Carroll/Bobby Grier years, and how the club botched the bounty of draft picks received when the Jets signed Bill Parcells and Curtis Martin.




Happy 43rd birthday to Greg Robinson-Randall
Born June 23, 1978 in Galveston, Texas
Patriot RT, 2000-2002; uniform #77, #64
Pats 4th round (127th overall) pick of the 2000 draft, from Michigan State

Greg Randall started four games as a rookie and then every game in 2001 for the super bowl champions. Then in 2002 Randall started just three games before being replaced by Kenyatta Jones, a 2001 4th round pick by the Pats. Randall was inactive, a healthy scratch for the final nine games of the season plus the playoffs.

The Patriots traded Randall to Houston in March of 2003 for a fifth round draft pick. That pick was traded again and ended up netting center Dan Koppen. Randall started all 16 games for the Texans but was out of the NFL the following year; he later played in the CFL and Arena Football League. Over three seasons Randall appeared in 35 games with 23 starts for the Patriots, plus three playoff games. He earned a ring as part of the '01 team that upset the Greatest Showoffs on Turf in Super Bowl 36.






Happy 61st birthday to Doug Rogers
Born June 23, 1960 in Chico, CA
Patriot DE, 1983-1984; uniform #65

Claimed off waivers from Atlanta on September 14, 1983

The former second round pick by Atlanta off waivers played on special teams, and on the line on passing downs for the Pats. Over two seasons he played in 22 games, but was slowed down by shoulder and foot injuries that ended up requiring surgery. The foot injury kept him off the field in '85 and the Pats eventually waived him from the physically unable to perform list in mid-October.





Happy 30th birthday to Jon Halapio
Born June 23, 1991 in St Petersburg, FL
Patriot G, 2014; uniform #59
Pats 6th round (179th overall) selection of the 2014 draft, from Florida




The draft pick used on the former Gator was acquired along with a fourth round pick (used on Bryan Stork) from Jacksonville, in exchange for New England's third round pick (#93 overall, Brandon Linder, who is still the Jaguars' starting center). Jon Halapio was cut at the end of his rookie training camp; after that he spent two seasons in the Fall Experimental Football League (2014 with the Boston Brawlers and 2015 with the Brooklyn Bolts). Halapio was on Denver's practice squad for a few weeks, and in Arizona for their 2015 training camp. The Pats re-signed Halapio in the 2016 offseason, but once again he was cut at the end of training camp. Since then he has mostly been with the Giants, bouncing back and forth between their practice squad and the 53-man roster; he finished 2020 on Denver's practice squad and is currently a free agent.




Happy 26th birthday to Colby Gossett
Born June 23, 1991 in Cumming, GA
Patriot G, 2019 practice squad; uniform #67
Signed to the practice squad on September 2, 2019

Colby Gossett was originally a sixth round (compensatory) pick in 2018 by the Vikings, from Appalachian State. He has been on the practice squads for Minnesota, Arizona, New England and Cleveland, appearing in five games with four starts for the Cardinals after Mike Iupati was injured. That audition did not go too well though, as Gossett allowed five sacks while not doing anything noticeable as a run blocker. The Patriots signed him to their initial 2019 practice squad, then waived him nine days later to make room on the PS for defensive backs Obi Melifonwu and Nate Brooks. Gossett opted out of the 2020 season and is currently on the Browns roster.




July 23, 2001:
Patriots sign college wrestler Stephen Neal.




Two other pro football players with New England area connections:

- John Bredice (6/23/1934-10/1/1997); Connecticut native went to Notre Dame High School in West Haven and Boston University, and was an end for the Philadelphia Eagles.

- Don Panciera (6/23/1927-2/9/2012); Rhode Island native went to LaSalle Academy in Providence, and Boston College. The QB played pro football from 1949-53, then owned Panciera Chevrolet in Wakefield RI before retiring.



Other pro football notables born on June 23:
- LaDainian Tomlinson, 42; HoF RB is probably still whining about the Pats.

- Dave Butz, 71; Washington All-Pro DT and member of the NFL's all-decade team of the 1980s played in 231 games from 1973 to 1988, after St. Louis gave up on him after two seasons.

- Cory Schlesinger, 49; Detroit Lions FB played in 181 games from 1995-2006.

- Bob Toneff, four-time Pro Bowl DT with 49ers and Washington played from 1952 to 1964.

- Marcel Reece, 36; Oakland's four-time Pro Bowl fullback.

- Tony Hill, 65; Dallas WR had 51 touchdown receptions.

- Shaun O'Hara, 44; Giants Pro Bowl center is now on NFL Network.

- Brandon Stokley, 45; the 'slot machine' had five seasons with 40+ receptions.

- Josh Scobee, 39; kicked 241 field goals and scored 1,046 points.
 

Pape

In the Starting Line-Up
Today in Patriots History
More June 23 Birthdays
[ SNIP ] ...
'01 team that upset the Greatest Showoffs on Turf in Super Bowl 36.
LMFAO

Happy 26th birthday to Colby Gossett
Born June 23, 1991 in Cumming, GA
Patriot G, 2019 practice squad; uniform #??
Signed to the practice squad on September 2, 2019

Colby Gossett was originally a sixth round (compensatory) pick in 2018 by the Vikings, from Appalachian State. He has been on the practice squads for Minnesota, Arizona, New England and Cleveland, appearing in five games with four starts for the Cardinals after Mike Iupati was injured. That audition did not go too well though, as Gossett allowed five sacks while not doing anything noticeable as a run blocker. The Patriots signed him to their initial 2019 practice squad, then waived him nine days later to make room on the PS for defensive backs Obi Melifonwu and Nate Brooks. Gossett opted out of the 2020 season and is currently on the Browns roster.

Wiki 2019 NEP practice squad roster has him down as # 67
 
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jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Third best LT ever in Pat's history? Not bad considering you're only bested by Armstrong and Gray.
You bring up an interesting question, one I had never previously considered.

Usually ranking a 'first, second, third best in team history' by position is a relatively easy task, with minimal debate. Not so simple at this position.
 

captain stone

Hall of Fame Poster
Matt Light also does a mean Harry Carey impression worthy of Will Ferrell...


Too bad that Larry Whigham was jettisoned before the 2001 season...A mistake on Bill's part, from both a personnel as well as personal perspective...Could've used him in 2002 when Tebucky was sucky...





Front Row: Corwin Brown (S-30), Ty Law (CB-24), Bill Belichick, Scooter McGruder (CB-27), Jimmy Hitchcock (CB-31). Back row: Vernon Lewis (DB-43),
Otis Smith (CB-45), Lawyer Milloy (SS-36), Larry Whigham (DB-25), Willie Clay (FS-32), Terry Billups (CB-23), Ricky Reynolds (CB-21), Jerome Henderson (CB-26).

That's a great photo...Don't think I've ever seen it before...Was that taken in New Orleans before SB31? I also like the shirt Bill was wearing; wonder if that was ever on sale at the pro shop?
 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Matt Light also does a mean Harry Carey impression worthy of Will Ferrell...


Too bad that Larry Whigham was jettisoned before the 2001 season...A mistake on Bill's part, from both a personnel as well as personal perspective...Could've used him in 2002 when Tebucky was sucky...





Front Row: Corwin Brown (S-30), Ty Law (CB-24), Bill Belichick, Scooter McGruder (CB-27), Jimmy Hitchcock (CB-31). Back row: Vernon Lewis (DB-43),
Otis Smith (CB-45), Lawyer Milloy (SS-36), Larry Whigham (DB-25), Willie Clay (FS-32), Terry Billups (CB-23), Ricky Reynolds (CB-21), Jerome Henderson (CB-26).

That's a great photo...Don't think I've ever seen it before...Was that taken in New Orleans before SB31? I also like the shirt Bill was wearing; wonder if that was ever on sale at the pro shop?
Another great question that I had not thought about previously.

Based on the players that are in the picture I first figured it to be somewhere between 1994-96, but then when you also figure in Belichick, it was easy to pinpoint it to 1996. Prior to that BB was head coach of the Browns, and he headed south on I-95 the following year with Tuna. In '96 Belichick was the Patriots' defensive backs coach, and also held the title of assistant head coach.

In regards to where the photo was taken, I assume Miami based on the "VIII" in the background; the Dolphins defeated the Vikings in Super Bowl 8.

Yeah, that shirt is unique, I've never seen it elsewhere.
 

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