Dont’a Hightower Announces Retirement After Nine Seasons

Dont'a Hightower
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

In an essay in the Players Tribune, New England Patriots Linebacker Dont’a Hightower announced his retirement earlier Tuesday morning.

The 33-year-old joined the Patriots as a first-round pick after a decorated college career. He won a pair of national championships at Alabama, raising the expectations at the pro level. He was able to establish himself as a full-time starter in his rookie campaign and remained a key member of the Patriots’ defense throughout his career with the team.

“They say time flies in this league. Boy, they’re not lying,” the article read.

“Today, I am officially retiring from the NFL. I know these announcements always feel bittersweet, but I can’t think of a better story than the one I wrote in New England. A decade, three Super Bowls, two Pro Bowls, and the birth of my son — all playing for one franchise. How many guys have a story like that?”

Hightower has played in New England for his entire nine-year career. During that time, he tallied up 353 solo tackles, 216 assisted tackles, 43 tackles for loss, 27 sacks, five fumble recoveries and one interception. He never totaled more than six sacks or 97 tackles in a single campaign, but remained a consistent producer through his final season in 2021. What he brought to the franchise was a leadership that showed up on the field.

End of an Era

The retirement of Hightower marks the beginning of a new generation with Devin McCourty also retiring.

Dont’a Hightower will most likely be inducted into the Patriots “Ring of Honor” when all is said and done. The resume of big moments are there including his tackle on Marshawn Lynch which set up the Seattle Seahawks’ now infamous goal-line interception in Super Bowl XLIX and the strip-sack that helped fuel the Patriots’ historic comeback in Super Bowl LI. He earned Pro Bowl nods in 2016 and 2019, as well as second-team All-Pro honors in the former season.

“Today, I’m totally at peace knowing that I gave this franchise every ounce of sweat I had left,” Hightower wrote.

After acknowledging support from his family, teammates, fans and the Patriots organization, Hightower concluded his announcement by simply adding, “thank you. Just thank you. I wouldn’t rewrite a single chapter of this story.”

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