With a smile, Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower tackled retirement rumors about as hard as any running back he’s ever met in the hole.
“All the rumors about about retirement,” he told reporters Tuesday, “y’all had me thinking someone was trying to kick me out.
During a video conference call after the Patriots’ second minicamp practice, Hightower repeatedly rebuffed the idea he might retire or considered retiring while he sat out the 2020 season.
“If I had to do it again, if I had to go back and do it, I would absolutely do it again,” Hightower said of opting-out. “It was really just for the season. I wasn’t planning or discussing anything like that.”
Hightower, 31, reiterated he opted out for family reasons. He was one of eight Patriots players who chose to sit out. Most others are no longer with the team.
More recently, Hightower attended the Pats’ final OTA practices and has been a mainstay at mandatory minicamp. The 31-year-old looks slimmed down compared to his last on-field appearances in New England, where he led the league’s top-ranked defense in 2019. That season, Hightower was also named to the Pro Bowl for the second time of his career.
Now in a second career act, he’s not only happy to be back, but looking forward to leading the Patriots defense back to where he last left it.
“I wouldn’t be out here doing this for free,” he smiled.