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All-time Bill Belichick Patriots team: Right guard

Ryan Hannable
July 09, 2018 - 11:59 am

Leading up to Patriots training camp at the end of July we’re unveiling our all-time Bill Belichick Patriots team with a new position coming out almost every day. Today, it’s right guard. Click here for the complete series so far.

Steve Neal

Who would have thought a player who didn't play college football and wrestled instead would turn into the best right guard Bill Belichick has ever coached?

Neal attended Cal State-Bakersfield and was one of the best wrestlers in the entire country and even tried out for the Olympics after college. He then gave football a shot and was originally cut by the Patriots in 2001 during training camp, but then was signed off the Eagles' practice squad at the end of the year. He ended up spending his entire 10-year career with the Patriots.

He didn't start right away due to performance and injury, but earned the job in 2004. Injuries never really went away, but he showed tremendous toughness starting 81 of 86 careers games and won three Super Bowls. Neal ended up retiring in 2011 after suffering a shoulder injury in the 2010 season.

Although he was never a Pro Bowler, he has a terrific story going from college wrestler to three-time Super Bowl champion.

Belichick was a huge fan of Neal and still refers to him in press conferences to this day.

"They don't come any better than Steve Neal. In terms of improvement and development as a player, Steve may have accomplished more than any player I have ever been around," Belichick said in a statement when Neal retired. "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."

Honorable mention: None

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