Todd Lyght played for the Rams from 1991 – 2000. The 5th overall pick of the 1991 Draft was quick to win Rams Rookie of the Year (1991) and went on to have success with the team as a 1999 Pro Bowl nomination and a crucial member of the Rams Super Bowl XXXIV Championship team – commonly known as the Greatest Show on Turf.
*Q: What is your current occupation? What is your favorite thing to do in your free time? *
Lyght: “I am going into my fourth season as the Defensive Backs coach for the University of Notre Dame. When I’m not coaching, I love to play golf because I love the game, the outdoors and competing with my friends… Spending time on the golf course as much as possible. I was actually just out in Malibu with my wife and we just looked at each other and said, ‘Wow we have to move back out here.’ Coming back to Southern California is definitely in our future plans.”
*Q: What was your favorite memory while playing with the Rams? *
Lyght: “Obviously, winning the Super Bowl. We won the Super Bowl in my ninth season and up until that point we had gone through some really rough seasons and had gone through some coaches and a lot of player change over which had been difficult for myself, Isaac Bruce, Keith Lyle and D’Marco Farr. We were some of the veterans on the team that had come from L.A. and went to St. Louis.”
Q: What was your pregame ritual back in the day?
Lyght: “I didn’t really have any pregame rituals. For me, it was always about the mental preparation. Just going through the playbook one last time and making sure I had all the checks down. Also, visualization - I was really big on visualizing myself being successful and visualizing myself making these different adjustments based on formation and calls and just going through what I was going to do on each play and execute at a high level. That was pretty much what my pregame ritual was all about, it was about fine tuning and fine detailing everything that I needed to execute on game day at a high level.”
*Q: Who was your best on the road roommate? *
Lyght: “Had to be Marshall Faulk for sure. Well, I guess we weren’t roommates but we always made it a point to go out to dinner somewhere nice and talk about the matchup, what we had to do to win, relax a little bit and then go back to the hotel, get some proper rest and go out and win.”
*Q: Who was the best player that you ever played with? Who was the best player you ever played against? *
Lyght: “Again, I’d have to say Marshall Faulk. He was the best player I ever played with and against. I remember when he was with the Colts, I think it was 1995, I think he had 177 yards rushing with like three touchdowns and a 60-yard touchdown called back and a 70-yard touchdown called back, so it was one of the more phenomenal performances I had ever seen firsthand against an opponent and it was pretty special. Then when he got the opportunity to join us, I was really, really excited about playing with him knowing what type of player he was and how much he was going to help us be successful on gameday.”
Q: If you can go back and give rookie Todd Lyght a piece of advice, what would it be? **
Lyght: “I think early on in my career, due to the lack of success we had on the field, it was really, really tough… I didn’t display good sportsmanship when I was a young player. I had success in terms of winning my whole career in every sport that I participated in so when I got to the NFL and we weren’t having success, I wasn’t a very good sport about it. There would be times after a game I would be so frustrated with losing that I would just walk straight into the locker room and not shake the others team’s hand and that was a mistake. If I could go back and change one thing about my young self, that’s what it would be, to be a good sportsman.”
Q: What was your favorite city to visit when you were playing and why?
Lyght: “Probably New Orleans when the old NFC West when was San Francisco, Atlanta, New Orleans and L.A. I always really enjoyed my time in New Orleans. I think going to that city with all the wonderful restaurants and all the different nightlife that they had and the culture, everything about Louisiana just really intrigued me. I really enjoyed my time playing in the Super Dome, that was a lot of fun and we always had a lot of success against the New Orleans Saints teams so that was a lot of fun too.”
*Q: Looking back on your career what would you say was your greatest success or what are you most proud of? *
Lyght: “When I think of my career, I think of the mental and physical toughness I displayed as a player. When I was with the Rams organization for 10 years I had a consecutive-starting streak of over 120-plus games, which is pretty phenomenal knowing that the average career span of an NFL player is about 2-3 years. I figured you count that, that’s about 8 years of consecutive starts which is pretty strong at such a high level. I would also say being a great teammate. For me, it was always about doing the right thing by the team and trying to play winning football and never trying to get too caught up in statistics but always be about the end result which was a Rams’ win. Those were all important things to me.”
*Q: If you could go to dinner tonight with three of your former teammates who would it be? *
Lyght: “Oh that’s easy – Isaac Bruce, Keith Lyle and Marshall Faulk. We’d be getting into something that’s for sure. We may have to drop Isaac off... the rest of us, we’d be okay!”
Q: If you could go up against a player in the league today, who would you be most excited about playing against?
Lyght: “To me right now when I watch the game, Julio Jones. He is just on a completely different level with some of these things that he is able to do. I mean that would be a tough cover. In terms of his speed, power, hand-eye coordination and acceleration. I think he might be the toughest cover arguably in the history of the game, so I think that would be a really wonderful challenge to play against a player of his caliber.”
*Q: With draft season upon us, what was it like for you to be drafted 5th overall to the L.A. Rams back in 1991? *
Lyght: “It was amazing for me because I remember my first time spending time in L.A. I was with the University of Notre Dame as a player and we were out in Southern California around late November and I just remember it was about 80 degrees and thinking, ‘Oh my God, people really live like this? This is amazing! I could so see myself out here’… not knowing that four years later I would have the opportunity to not just play out here but live out in Southern California. I spent a lot of time in Southern California, I met my wife in Southern California, my son was born in Southern California, we have plans to move back to Southern California at some point and in a perfect world, I ‘d get the opportunity to help coach the Rams and go back and win another Super Bowl and be back in Southern California.”
*Q: You’re originally from the Marshall Islands - how did you get into football? *
Lyght: Yes, I was born in the Marshall Islands, my father was in the military. The Marshall Islands are a trust territory in the South Pacific, basically a missile command base. We were there for maybe six months when I was born then we moved to Hawaii, my father was stationed in Honolulu. We lived in Honolulu for two years and then when I was three years old we moved to Virginia so I basically grew up there. I don’t remember the islands, but it was great. I was a happy kid. When I was in high school, I would always sketch palm trees or draw island landscapes. I think that was just subconsciously being so happy as a kid growing up on the islands. It was a great experience to me.”
*Q: Is there some motto you have lived your life by? *
Lyght: “The motto I have is just to strive for personal greatness each and every day to improve mentally, physically and spiritually and just try to have a positive impact on people I come in contact with. I think for me, that’s the motto that I live by. It sounds like it should be common sense but it’s not and it’s hard to do too. I talk to my players about this, sometimes it’s just about tweaking the margins because you could be at a really high level and you still want to improve but you may not make a huge gain in a particular area but still, even if it’s only incremental gains, you’re still putting in the work towards that goal. A lot of people have asked me, ‘What’s the greatest thing you’ve ever done? Was it winning the National Championship at the University of Notre Dame or being drafted by the Rams in the first round? Was it becoming an All-Pro or winning a Super Bowl?’ All of those things were great and all of those things were goals of mine that I wanted to accomplish, but the greatest thing I ever did was donate a six figure sum to create a scholarship in my name at the University of Notre Dame and there have been over 20 kids that have graduated from Notre Dame from the state of Michigan and the state of California – from the cities of Detroit and Los Angeles. When I look back on it in terms of my impact on people, I think that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done. It’s been amazing because some of the kids will write me and tell me some of the things they are doing. There was one young lady who was from North Carolina and she went back to be an educator at an urban school, started as a teacher, ended up becoming the principal before the school ended up becoming the Blue Ribbon School of the state which is really amazing. There was also a young man who studied abroad and ended up being a Rhodes Scholar. So just all these wonderful things that have happened to these kids that have graduated on my scholarship, just that ripple effect of having a positive impact on someone’s life and then them going out and having a positive impact on people has created a really good positive ripple effect and I am really proud of that.”