One of the longest tenured members of the Patriots' offensive line decided to call it quits on his football career today. Veteran offensive guard Stephen Neal announced his retirement from the NFL after 10 seasons in New England.
Originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by New England in 2001, he was released by the team and re-signed to the roster after a stint with the Philadelphia Eagles.
A wrestler in college, Neal worked his way up from New England's practice squad to earn a his first start in 2002. Injuries held him back, but by 2004 Neal owned the starting right guard position.
Neal finishes his career having having played in 86 career regular-season (81 starts). He also started all 12 of the postseason games he appeared in. Neal played in just eight games his final season in New England, landing on injured reserve due to a should injury.
Dan Connolly filled in for Neal during the season, and is expected to be first in line to assume the spot next season.
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