Prior to the start of the last offseason, Patriots guard Stephen Neal had doubts about whether or not he’d call it a career, wondering if his body could handle another NFL season.
Patriots G Stephen Neal is hanging it up after nine seasons here in New England. (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)
Neal ended up playing out one more year, and now apparently he’s decided he’s had enough.
The Patriots announced in a press release Wednesday night that the veteran guard is hanging up his cleats, and will reportedly retire after being a part of this football team since 2002.
The former Cal-State Bakersfield Championship wrestler has been battling injuries his entire career, and started the first eight games of last season before heading to injured reserve one final time with a shoulder injury.
Following the playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 2010, a dejected Neal said at the time he didn’t know if his body could hold up for another year, and sounded like he was going to retire then.
â€śIâ€™m not sure,â€ť Neal said at the time. â€śIâ€™m not sure how my body is going to feel. Iâ€™m not sure if Iâ€™ll keep playing, keep getting in them car accidents each week. Weâ€™ll have to find out, talk to the family, see what options are available.â€ť
Two months later he signed a contract with the team on March 5th, but this final injury seems to have caused him to decide enough is enough.
Neal started 81 of the 86 career regular-season games in which he appeared. He also started in each of the 12 postseason games that he played in during his tenure here in New England.