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Longtime New England Patriots star Dan Connolly looks set to retire

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The New England Patriots have had a lot to worry about this off-season, ahead of the 2015 NFL campaign.

Thanks to the DeflateGate saga, the Patriots have lost Tom Brady for the first four games of the season as they look to retain as SuperBowl Champions, along with a million dollar fine and the loss of their first round draft pick next year.

There's someone else who has had to do a lot of thinking in this off-season, and retirement seems to be the answer.

Dan Connolly has been a starting guard for the New England Patriots for the last five years, protecting the aforementioned Brady, but his time in the National Football League may be at an end.

According to a report from Mike Reiss, who covers the Patriots for ESPN, Connolly may be deciding to bow out of the game at the height of his career after winning a Super Bowl.

Connolly's contract with the Patriots expired at the end of last season, and he drew some interest from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the team New England beat in the Super Bow, the Seahawks Seahawks. The veteran guard declined to sign with either side however.

According to Reiss, "Connolly’s reluctance to uproot/be away from his family was the primary factor that led him to decline" the Bucs and Seahawks offers.

Impressive Career

Whatever happens, Connolly will have had one hell of a career. The lineman made the impressive jump from undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars out of the unheard of Southeast Missouri State, who play in the Ohio Valley Conference.

From there, Connolly became a  practice-squad player with the Patriots in 2007,  before becoming a full-time starter for the past five years, becoming a Captain and Super Bowl winner in his last year.

Oh, he also holds the record for longest ever kick return for an offensive lineman, taking one kick off back 71 yards against the Green Bay Packers before being cruelly brought down at the five-yard line.

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