New England Patriots Linebacker Announces Retirement After 11-Years With Team

Dont'a Hightower, the linebacker who spent all 11 of his seasons with the New England Patriots, has officially announced his retirement from football.

Hightower made the announcement through his personal Twitter account and also wrote a heartfelt essay in the Players' Tribune where he credited the Patriots' culture of professionalism and mental preparation for their success.

During his career, Hightower was known for his versatility and his ability to play anywhere in the front seven of the Patriots' defense.

He played in 117 games and started in 114 since being drafted in 2012, amassing impressive statistics including 569 tackles (353 solo), 27 sacks, 43 tackles for loss, 67 QB hits, one interception, 18 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and five fumble recoveries, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

Hightower was a two-time Pro Bowler and helped the Patriots win three Super Bowl rings, making clutch performances in the big games that earned him the nickname "Mr. February" from head coach Bill Belichick.

One of Hightower's most memorable moments was during Super Bowl XLIX when he made a game-winning tackle on Marshawn Lynch that helped set up the game-winning interception by teammate Malcolm Butler.

Another was his sack-fumble on Matt Ryan during Super Bowl LI, which also helped the Patriots win the game. Despite not receiving as much attention as some of his teammates, Hightower's contributions to the Patriots' success were crucial.

Hightower's retirement comes after fellow Patriots' veteran Devin McCourty also announced his retirement, marking the end of an era for the team's defense.

However, the Patriots' culture of professionalism and mental toughness, which both Hightower and McCourty helped establish, will likely continue to be a key factor in their success.

While the team faces the challenge of rebuilding, they remain competitive in the AFC East and beyond. As Hightower and McCourty move on to the next chapter of their lives, it will be exciting to see what new opportunities and challenges they pursue. Photo Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports