Former Southeast Missouri and longtime New England Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly announced his retirement Thursday.
Connolly spent eight seasons with the Patriots, playing left guard, center and right guard in New England. A team captain, Connolly played in 13 regular-season games last season and started Super Bowl XLIX at left guard. Health concerns convinced Connolly to leave the game, as he was diagnosed with four concussions during his NFL career and suffered a fifth in high school.
Connolly went undrafted out of Southeast in 2005, but signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars that season. He then signed with the Patriots in 2007 and earned a starting job in 2010. Connolly became a fan-favorite in New England during the 2010 season when he fielded a short kickoff and ran 71 yards against the Green Bay Packers.
A 2013 Southeast Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Connolly became the first player in school history to play in a Super Bowl when he suited up with the New England Patriots against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. He was a four-year starting offensive tackle with the Redhawks and was a Second-Team All-Conference selection each of his four college seasons. Connolly finished his career with 46-consecutive starts. As a junior, he started every game at offensive tackle and allowed only one sack. Connolly returned to Southeast to receive his bachelor's degree in general studies during the spring of 2011.
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