Today's Article - Stephen Neal

This article is for quizzes on Thursday August 11th...

Stephen Matthew Neal (born October 9, 1976) is a former American football guard who played his entire career for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. He is a former world champion in freestyle wrestling, national champion amateur and collegiate wrestler at Cal State-Bakersfield. He was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2001, and won three Super Bowl rings with the team.
Neal attended California State University, Bakersfield and became one of the top wrestlers in the nation, compiling a 156–10 record with four All-American seasons. He placed fourth in NCAA Division I as a freshman and second as a sophomore before winning titles his junior and senior year. In 1997, in his sophomore season, Neal lost to two time heavyweight champ Kerry McCoy. The 1998 campaign saw Neal win his first NCAA heavyweight title 20-5 over Trent Hynek of Iowa St. His final title in 1999 came via a win over future NCAA wrestling champion, WWE Champion, and UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar (in March 2011, Lesnar told Opie & Anthony that his loss to Neal still sticks with him). In 1999, Neal won the Dan Hodge Award following a year in which he won the U.S. Freestyle Championship, the Pan-American Games title and the 1999 World Wrestling Championships at 286 pounds. His 1999 season led up to the 2000 Summer Olympics trials where Kerry McCoy edged him for the trip to Sydney, Australia. After the trials, Neal retired from wrestling.

Neal set Pac-10 Conference records by finishing 34–0 in conference competition, while becoming the conference's first four-time winner in the same weight class, and second four-time winner ever. He finished his college career as Cal State-Bakersfield's career record holder in wins (156) and also set school records for pins in a season (31) and a career (71).

While at Cal State-Bakersfield, Neal was a four-time Academic All-American and a four-time Pac-10 Academic All-Conference selection.


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