Linebacker Dont’a Hightower says the decision to opt out of the 2020 NFL season was not an easy one, nor was it made lightly.
“I feel like this is the best decision for my family at the moment,” Hightower said in a statement shared on his social media accounts Tuesday afternoon. “I am very grateful for the support of my teammates and coaches as well, and I will try to continue leading and helping as much as I can.”
Hightower and her fiancé welcomed a newborn son, the couple’s first child, in early July. He is one of six Patriots, so far, to choose not to participate in next season.
Running back Brandon Bolden, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, guard Najee Toran and fullback Dan Vitale have also chosen not to play amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“2020 has been a challenging year for our world,” continued the Hightower statement. “I hope that everyone can remain a light in these dark times: more light and great times are yet to come.”
With Hightower out for the year, the Patriots will miss much of their linebacker corps from last season. Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts, and Kyle Van Noy departed during free agency, meaning third-year player Ja’Whaun Bentley, newcomer Brandon Copeland, and recruits Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, and Cassh Maluia will likely be called upon to contribute. . .
Patriots rookies and quarterbacks were expected to report to Gillette Stadium for the start of training camp on Monday. Veteran players are slated to do the same later this week.
Read Hightower’s full statement below:
Pats Nation, you have supported me unconditionally for the past 8 years. Through Super Bowl wins (3 of them!), Season-ending injuries, the occasional “Boomtower” TD, strip bags, charity events and everything in between. I appreciate that support more than you know, and I appreciate that same support and understanding now more than ever.
This was not an easy decision, or I took it lightly, but I think it is the best decision for my family at the moment. I am very grateful for the support of my teammates and coaches as well, and I will try to continue leading and helping as much as I can. 202 has been a challenging year for our world. I hope that everyone can continue to be a light in these dark times: more light and great times are to come. Thanks and stay safe!
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