Patriots Offensive Lineman Dan Connolly has decided to retire from football, he is 32 years old.
Connolly was an undrafted free agent signing by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005, before being waived by the team in 2007. Connolly signed with the Patriots practice squad on Septemeber 13, 2007. Connolly would re-sign a future contract with the team in 2008, then was waived by the Pats in October of 2008, before re-signing with the team’s practice squad on October 22, 2008, two days after being released. He would eventually make the team’s 53 man roster in 2009. He would make four starts at right guard in 2009 and sign an extension with the team through the 2011 season. He would make 7 starts in 2010 at left guard for the Pats before becoming the starter at right guard the remainder of the season after an injury to Stephen Neal. On Decemeber 19, 2010, Connolly would return a squib kick by the Packers 71 yards to set up a Patriot touchdown, the longest kick return in NFL history by an offensive lineman. Connolly was named AFC Special Teams Player of The Week for his recording breaking return.
Connolly was the Patriots team captain in 2014 and helped the team win a fourth Super Bowl. Connolly played mostly guard for the Patriots and center, showing his ability to hold the line from any spot on the field.
Connolly said he reached the decision to retire for health reasons and wanted to go out on top as a Super Bowl Champion.
“It definitely played a part in it; helped me sleep better,” the eight year Pats guard said when asked if winning the Super Bowl was a reason for retiring. “I’m more at ease with the decision.”
Connolly also said health reasons was his biggest factor for retiring.
“It’s important to me to leave the game healthy,” Connolly said. “I’m able to be here for my kids and walk away on my own terms. I feel like I got everything I could out of football in playing 10 years, winning a Super Bowl, and playing alongside some truly great players.”
Connolly has appeared in 89 games with 71 starts. He also played in 11 playoff games and appeared in two Super Bowls.
He was a free agent this year, getting offers from a few teams.
He also noted that he has three daughters with his wife that are all under 6 years old, and he does not want to move them to a different city or be away from his family while playing.
Connolly admitted he went back and forth on his decision before making his final decision a month ago.
His friends, family, and the Patriots were aware of his decision.
“The locker room friendships, I just don’t know if you can get that type of connection in any job in the world; being together in training camp and hotels on the road, that close-knit bond is something I’ll definitely miss,” Connolly said.
“With my football career coming to a close I am grateful for the opportunity given to me by the Kraft family and Coach [Bill] Belichick. It is an honor to have been part of such a great organization for the past eight seasons.”