Longtime NFL star and three-time Super Bowl champion linebacker Dont'a Hightower has announced that he is retiring from the sport, penning his announcement in a touching piece published in The Players' Tribune.
In his announcement, Hightower detailed his story, counting off the numerous accolades he collected as a member of the New England Patriots, including three Super Bowls, two Pro Bowls, and a second-team All-Pro in 2016, while also acknowledging his off-field accomplishments of raising a young son during his time in the league.
"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," Hightower wrote. "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?"
A first-round pick out of Alabama, Hightower was a force to be reckoned with while at linebacker for the Patriots' defense. A member of their all-2010s team, he anchored a linebacker corp that helped lead the team to consistent postseason success, including their stunning victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. In that game, Hightower provided a key stop late in the game, tackling running back Marshawn Lynch at the one-yard line and setting up the fateful Russell Wilson interception that sealed the game for the Patriots.
He concluded his career with the following farewell:
"I just want to say thank you for helping me live my dream. To you, to my beautiful wife, Morgan, to all my coaches, my teammates, my mentors, my teachers, my friends, my entire family, and to all the fans at Bama and New England....Thank you. Just thank you. I wouldn’t rewrite a single chapter of this story.
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