Three-time Super Bowl champion Hightower retires from NFL
Former New England Patriots linebacker D'Onta Hightower has retired from the NFL.
A first-round pick in the 2012 draft out of Alabama, Hightower spent his entire career with the Patriots, playing a pivotal role in three Super Bowl championships.
After helping the Patriots defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at the end of the 2014 season, bringing down Marshawn Lynch short of the endzone on the play prior to Malcolm Butler's game-winning interception, Hightower made a key contribution in their remarkable comeback against the Atlanta Falcons two years later.
His strip sack of Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter gave the Patriots the ball deep in Falcons' territory, allowing New England to cut it to a one-score game as they incredibly fought back from 28-3 down to prevail in Super Bowl LI.
Hightower also capped the 2018 season with a title, the Patriots' defense holding the Los Angeles Rams to a field goal in a 13-3 success in Super Bowl LIII having lost a thriller to the Philadelphia Eagles a year earlier.
A two-time Pro Bowler, Hightower did not play in the 2022 season after his contract expired.
Hightower wrote in an article for the Players' Tribune: "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?
"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.
"I appreciate everyone who helped me make this dream come true. But I especially want to thank my mom. None of this happens without her. Now that I got my own 40-pound two-year-old running around the house like a little wrecking ball, I don’t know how you held it down for us all by yourself.
"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 team-mates, 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."