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Dan Connolly Retires from NFL After 8 Seasons

Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today: If the Patriots aren’t sold on Mallet as the future, they might draft a replacement for Brady.

Offensive guard Dan Connolly has decided to retire after eight seasons in the NFL.

The former New England Patriots stalwart is going out on top, having won a championship in his final year, which certainly made his decision easier.

“It definitely played a part in it; helped me sleep better,” Connolly said, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “I’m more at ease with the decision.”

Of course, there were other factors prompting him to call it quits with plenty of gas left in the tank. First and foremost, Connolly is thinking about his young family and the quality of life they would have together if he continued playing.

The veteran guard had options, per Reiss, as he had interest from “multiple clubs.”

But after suffering at least four concussions and weighing the reality of what any more might do to his brain, it wasn’t a big leap in logic to conclude his best option was to go out with his health intact.

“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.”

With so many former players suffering badly due to concussion-related symptoms, Connolly is clearly making the right move to retire.

It’s not going to be easy, however, leaving the camaraderie of the locker room behind.

“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.

Certainly, those connections are life-long, but without the day-to-day interactions, they lose their luster. Perhaps some playdates at the park with his young daughters might help to ease the pain.

While he made his living in the trenches, fans will surely remember Connolly for his hilarious 71-yard kickoff return back in 2010.

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