Belichick: “They don’t come any better than Steve Neal”

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Patriots guard Stephen Neal was one of the more remarkable stories in recent memory.   He’s a great example of patience and persistence by a player and organization.

Consider that Neal signed as a rookie free agent in New England in 2001.  A world class wrestler in college, Neal played in all of one game until 2004, when he became a consistent mauler on a Super Bowl champion team.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick released a statement on Neal Thursday.

“They don’t come any better than Steve Neal. Belichick said.  “In terms of improvement and development as a player, Steve may have accomplished more than any player I have ever been around. His toughness, intelligence and competitiveness were at rare levels and all contributed to him going from being a champion in an individual sport to being an integral part of championship teams.

“I congratulate Steve for an incredible career and thank him for everything he did for me personally, our team and organization.”

Neal said Thursday that his shoulder injuries made it too painful to continue to play football after 10 NFL seasons.

11 responses to “Belichick: “They don’t come any better than Steve Neal”

  1. Stephen Neal was one of Belichick’s home runs as far as talent recognition goes… . His transition from college wrestling to the NFL, where he excelled at guard, was nothing short of remarkable.

  2. For all those who say coaches aren’t ‘loyal’ to players when they don’t resign them to big contracts – Belichick coached up Neal for three years before getting anything out of him. He saw the potential and hard work, and he stuck with him. That’s loyalty.

  3. Sounds like a good guy – just hate to see players exit with injuries.
    Hopefully this new CBA will address extending more benefits to retirees.

  4. Hope his shoulders aren’t too jacked up. Would love to see him in the octagon some day. You can find plenty of current UFC and MMA fighters who will say Stephen Neal is the best wrestler they’ve ever faced.

  5. For a guy who was a long shot as an undrafted free agent Neal had a hell of a career. He and Belichick worked hard to transition him from wrestling to lineman and it really paid off.

    I enjoyed watching him play and hope he has a nice retirement.

  6. As much of a cuckolding, foul-mouthed, self-absorbed, tyrannical cheater Belichick is.. I dig that he always, always, always gives his linemen their due.

  7. He’s probably the only player in the history of the league who didn’t play college football and has three Super Bowl rings. An inspiring story.

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