Dont’a Hightower opted out of the 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving behind a massive hole in the New England Patriots defense. His decision also sparked conversation that he might head into retirement during the 2021 offseason.
However, Hightower is ready to put those rumors to bed, once and for all.
The two-time Pro Bowler showed up at Patriots minicamp earlier this week, ready to get to work. He also shared that he never entertained ending his playing days, joking with reporters that it seemed like someone was trying to usher him into retirement.
Dont'a Hightower dismisses retirement rumors. https://t.co/i5zGCv3cyk
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) June 16, 2021
Although Hightower doesn’t sound ready to hang up his jersey for good anytime soon, he stood behind his decision to opt out of the 2020 campaign.
“If I had to do it again, if I had to go back and do it, I would absolutely do it again,” Hightower said. “It was really just for the season. I wasn’t planning or discussing anything like [retirement].”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sounded thrilled to get his veteran defender back in the building this offseason. He already complimented Hightower’s ability to fit into the fold quickly.
“It’s good to have all the players that we have and yeah, it was good to see High,” Belichick said, per Pro Football Talk. “High’s worked right in very quickly. He’s obviously a smart player with a lot of experience and has a lot of leadership force on the team. But again, we’re not really in an evaluation mode here, so we’ll see how all that goes for everybody when we get to that point.”
Hightower might’ve take a year away from football but the Patriots will need him to come back in a major way this fall. He’ll be expected to lead a defense in New England capable of being one of the best in the league.