Faulk, Pats' longest-tenured player, happy to be back with team

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk didn't want to go out like Nomar Garciaparra.

Watching the former Boston Red Sox All-Star shortstop retire Wednesday helped convince Faulk that he wanted to spend his entire career with the Patriots. So Faulk re-signed with the Patriots, who made him a second-round draft pick in 1999 and the only NFL team for which he has played. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

"I might have left and gone, and it might have been successful, but it wouldn't have been the same if I would have been here doing it," Faulk said during a conference call with reporters Thursday, one day after Garciaparra made his awkward, one-day return to the Red Sox for the purpose of announcing his retirement.

"What happened with Nomar Garciaparra -- it's great he came back and retired a Red Sox," Faulk said. "But at the same time, if he would have done it here, it would have even been better."

Faulk, who was an unrestricted free agent, is the longest-tenured member of the Patriots. Along with quarterback Tom Brady and offensive linemen Matt Light and Stephen Neal, Faulk was a member of all three PatriotsSuper Bowl-winning teams.

"You see a lot of guys that come and go in the NFL, that have been with one team for a certain amount of years, and they've left and go make their mark somewhere else," Faulk said. "But you never hear about a guy in this day and age that's been staying for a long time. And it's just a fact of being in that organization and trying to uphold and be consistent."

Faulk, 33, said he never considered retiring. And he wasn't really considering going to another team, either.

"I was always 85 percent sure that I was going to wind up back in New England," Faulk said. "As a father, a husband, I had to think about all of that besides just football -- what I was going to do, what the family was going to have to do if I was going to have to leave or not. That was a weighing factor on me, as well."

Faulk ran for 335 yards last season, and he also caught 37 passes for 301 yards and scored three touchdowns. He has 3,505 yards rushing and 3,605 yards receiving in his career, and he also has returned kickoffs and punts.

The Patriots also re-signed Neal this week.

Neal, a college wrestler who became the starting guard for a Super Bowl champion, was part of a line that allowed 18 sacks last season, the team's fewest since the NFL switched to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

Neal has been spending his offseason trying to raise money for the California State-Bakersfield wresting team, which is due to be eliminated because of budget cuts.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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