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.

“I’m not sure,” Neal said at the time. “I’m not sure how my body is going to feel. I’m not sure if I’ll keep playing, keep getting in them car accidents each week. We’ll have to find out, talk to the family, see what options are available.”

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.