Dont'a Hightower retires: Patriots LB made his mark on Super Bowl wins

Dont'a Hightower retires: Patriots LB made his mark on Super Bowl wins originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Another great New England Patriots player has retired.

Veteran linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who did not play during the 2022 season, officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday.

Hightower was selected by the Patriots in the first round (25th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was a tremendous player at Alabama, where he won two BCS national championships under head coach Nick Saban.

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His ability to perform at an elite level in clutch moments carried over to the pros. Hightower was one of the most important players in the Patriots' victories in Super Bowl XLIX, Super Bowl LI and Super Bowl LIII.

Hightower's tackle of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch at the 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX is one of the most underappreciated plays in league history. Hightower bench pressed Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung (6-foot-5, 310 pounds) off of him and then tackled Lunch at the goal line. Without that tackle, Lynch almost certainly scores the winning touchdown for the Seahawks and the Malcolm Butler interception never happens.

Two years later, Hightower extended the Patriots' historic comeback from down 28-3 against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI with a second-half strip sack. The Patriots scored a touchdown on their ensuing drive on the way to a 34-28 overtime win.

The Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII behind MVP Julian Edelman and an amazing performance by the defense, led by Hightower and his two sacks.

Hightower finishes his nine-year Patriots career with 383 solo tackles, 27 sacks, one interception, five fumble recoveries and 18 passes defensed in 117 regular season games.

Hightower is a lock to make the Patriots Hall of Fame at some point. He was a great player, a great leader and a foundational piece for the second half of the Patriots dynasty.