Three-time Super Bowl champion Dont’a Hightower of the New England Patriots announced on Tuesday that, after nine NFL seasons, it’s time for him to walk away from the sport for good.
“It’s been a hell of a ride & a career beyond my wildest dreams. It’s time to hang em up, from the bottom of my heart – thank you to everyone who played a part,” Hightower wrote.
It’s been a hell of a ride & a career beyond my wildest dreams. It’s time to hang em up, from the bottom of my heart – thank you to everyone who played a part. @playerstribune #boomtower https://t.co/Bb2hA9BL9A
— Dont’a Hightower (@zeus30hightower) March 21, 2023
Hightower came up clutch during Super Bowls multiple times during his career.
He mentioned in his Players Tribune piece that the tackle he made on Marshawn Lynch in the final minute of Super Bowl XLIX was a memorable moment for him. His tackle prevented Lynch from scoring the go-ahead touchdown and winning the Seattle Seahawks their second straight championship. Hightower set the stage for cornerback Malcolm Butler of New England to pick off Russell Wilson on the one-yard line the very next play, to secure the Super Bowl for the Patriots.
You gotta re-post this one. pic.twitter.com/1aHJ5IS1Q5
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) March 21, 2023
Game on the line. And Malcolm Butler steps up with an all-time INT.
Rewatch the @Patriots Super Bowl XLIX victory for FREE with NFL GamePass: https://t.co/3yQtk4LcnE @mac_bz pic.twitter.com/fFt3UyOe0j
— NFL (@NFL) April 14, 2020
His shoestring tackle on Lynch is often overshadowed by Butler icing the game with his interception on the next play.(RELATED: REPORT: ESPN Layoffs Are Looming, And Apparently No One’s Job Is Safe
He also marked his game-changing strip sack on the NFL MVP at the time, Matt Ryan, during Super Bowl LI as another unforgettable moment. His sack on Ryan changed the momentum of the game and helped the Patriots complete the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. His forced fumble in the final quarter resulted in two straight New England touchdowns and two successful two-point conversions that pushed the game into sudden death overtime, where the Patriots would ultimately win.
In my opinion, the biggest play of #SuperBowl LI
The #Falcons‘ only turnover of the entire postseason proves costly. Up 16 with 8:24 left in the third, Matt Ryan is strip-sacked by the #Patriots‘ Dont’a Hightower.
Alan Branch recovers and the momentum shifts New England’s way. pic.twitter.com/yt7FsYFpkj
— Kevin Gallagher (@KevG163) February 6, 2023
Hightower deserves to be mentioned as one of the greatest New England Patriots of all-time. He rarely missed games and was almost impossible to keep blocked and contained. There was only one season during his nine years in the league where he didn’t play in 12 or more games. In nine seasons, Hightower accumulated 569 tackles and 27 sacks, according to Pro Football Reference.
Hightower’s football I.Q., strength, and fearlessness, helped shape him into a great NFL player. I’m not sure Hightower will ever be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he certainly belongs in the Patriots Hall of Fame.