As a backup linebacker and specials teams player for the Patriots, Matt Chatham flew under the radar for most of his six seasons with the New England Patriots.
He recovered a fumble for 38 yards and scored a touchdown against the New York Giants in 2003, and earned three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots, making him one of the handful of players who were on all three championship teams.
His most memorable moment as a Patriot might've been just prior to the second half kickoff of Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina. A streaker ran across the field and danced before being absolutely leveled by Chatham. "I wanted to knock him down but not wrap up," Chatham remembered after the game. He then added wryly "Was I surprised? Hell no. I play for Bill Belichick. You don't think we watched film on that guy all week? I'd seen everything there is to see."
When Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini left the Patriots to take over the New York Jetsprior to the 2006 season, Chatham followed him, spending his final two seasons in the NFL with the Jets, finishing up his playing career following the 2007 season.
After his time with the Jets, Chatham returned to New England to begin his business career. He enrolled at Babson College and received his MBA in 2011. He then launched SkyCrepers, a gourmet crepe stand, last year as well.
Chatham made occasional media appearances, but has taken on a much larger role this season. Like others in town, Chatham is a triple-threat - appearing on radio, television and in print.
He is part of WEEI's NFL Sunday team, along with Dale Arnold, Christopher Price and Kevin Faulk. The show is superior to the "official" pregame "social" offered over at 98.5 The SportsHub.
On the television side, Chatham is a regular on NESN Daily, where he serves as a Patriots analyst.
This season, Chatham began a regular column for the Boston Herald, The Chatham Report, where he is able to offer his particular insider perspective as a former player in the New England system. Chatham is also active on Twitter @Chatham58 and is engaging and informative.
What Chatham offers, besides knowledge of the game and of the Patriots system, is also wit and humor, qualities that aren't always present in the stodgy, serious field of NFL analysis.
Another part of his appeal is his willingness to challenge commonly-held media views. In one of his first columns for the Herald, Chatham mocked the oft-repeated notion of just how bad the Patriots defense was a year ago. Chatham noted the solid play of the defense in the opener and and then wrote "Which is why the television broadcast's use of the rickety centerpiece of the bogus 2011 Patriots "worst defense ever" narrative - marking its 2011 yards-allowed ranking - was so burningly irksome."
He then added a little bit later - "The 2011 Pats were middle of the pack in the all-that-really-matters metric of points allowed, and they were actually near the top of the league in other categories like turnovers "- not to mention wins.
Statements like those, which true Patriots fans were begging others to believe last season, while most in the media banged the "worst defense in the league" drum, are a fast way to Patriots fans' hearts.
This past week, Chatham wrote at length about his belief that the game winning kick by the Ravenson Sunday night was actually a miss, and why that element of inexactness in the game would've infuriated his high school chemistry professor. He also posted a photo on Twitter which backed up his assertion.
Chatham isn't the first former player to burst on the media scene and provide a fresh perspective. (To think at one point I was praising the early work of one Lou Merloni) His early material though, is promising, and hopefully he can maintain who he is right now. It might ruffle some feathers among prideful media types who think they know more than a former player about the game, but fans like nothing more than seeing a know-it-all media member humbled a little bit.
Keep at it, Matt.