Veteran offensive lineman Dan Connolly has decided to retire from the NFL, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Connolly, who says the Patriots’ Super Bowl win last season helped him become more “at ease with the decision,” also cited health reasons when explaining why he’s ending his playing career. The SE Missouri St. alum has suffered four concussions throughout his NFL career, and made his decision to retire after speaking to his wife and doctors.
“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, 32, began his career with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in 2005, then later caught on with the Patriots. Connolly became a regular contributor in New England in 2009, and a full-time starter on the interior offensive line in 2010. Over the last five years, Connolly has played at left guard, right guard, and center for the Pats, appearing in 70 regular-season contests (67 starts).
A free agent this offseason, Connolly drew interest from a handful of teams, paying a visit to the Buccaneers back in March. However, we heard last month that, despite a strong pitch from Tampa Bay, Connolly wasn’t interested in moving so far away from his family, meaning he wasn’t likely to continue playing unless he got a strong offer from New England.
As the Patriots prepare to move on to younger, more inexperienced options at guard, Connolly expressed gratitude to the team for having given him a shot: “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.”