Everyone loves a good mystery, and there have been none better than current NFL free agent Dont’a Hightower’s locker being kept intact in the New England Patriots’ locker room.
The 32-year-old linebacker, who helped lead the defensive charge in the second-half of a dynasty that has spanned nearly two decades, holds a special place in the heart of Patriot Nation. So there was a glimmer of hope that he’d return at some point for the 2022 season.
Why else would his locker still be there?
Well, we might finally have an answer after spending an entire summer of wondering. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, there are no assurances that Hightower would be returning to the Patriots. Quite the contrary, it’s pretty “unlikely” at this point.
The thought behind leaving up his locker appears to be more out of respect for a franchise legend than anything else.
“It’s not necessarily that they are planning on the free agent’s return, which seems unlikely, as much as it is a show of respect amongst players. File that in the category of neat nuggets that reporters pick up now that they have access to the locker room again for the first time since COVID-19.”
It’s important to keep in mind that Hightower has yet to make a formal retirement. The thinking was that he’s taking time away to heal up from injuries before making any football-related decisions.
It’s time well-deserved for a three-time Super Bowl champion that has dedicated his life to the sport.