After 10 seasons and three Super Bowl rings, Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower is retiring from the National Football League, he announced on Tuesday.
Hightower penned a heartfelt goodbye to New England on The Player's Tribune, thanking the city for shaping him into the player and person he is today.
“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,” he explained.
“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? So this is a happy day for me, and I just wanted to let you all know how much I appreciate you embracing a Southern kid from Lewisburg, Tennessee.”
Hightower was originally taken with the 25th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Alabama, where he won two BCS National Championships. He played his entire 10-year career in New England, appearing in 117 games from 2012 to 2021, recording 569 tackles, 67 quarterback hits and 27 sacks.
“Sometimes it’s still unreal to think about…I am a three-time Super Bowl champion. Pretty good for a kid from Lewisburg, Tennessee. I appreciate everyone who helped me make this dream come true,” Hightower wrote.
“Thank you. Just thank you. I wouldn’t rewrite a single chapter of this story.”
The longtime Patriot was a key piece in three of the storied franchise's Super Bowl rings, and twice named to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2019. He was a staple on the defensive side of the ball for a decade in New England.
“Calling the plays that Patriots' Dont'a Hightower made in Super Bowls ‘game-changing' somehow doesn’t do them justice,” wrote ESPN's Seth Wickersham on Tuesday. “He altered entire legacies, both for the Patriots and for opponents.”