Dont’a Hightower issues statement following decision to opt out

"I do feel that it's the best decision for my family at this time."

Dont'a Hightower is expecting his first child.
Dont'a Hightower. –Patrick Semansky / AP

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower says the decision to opt out of the 2020 NFL season was not an easy one, nor one that he took lightly.

“I do feel that it’s the best decision for my family at this time,” Hightower said in a statement shared on his social media accounts Tuesday afternoon. “I’m so grateful for the support of my teammates and coaches as well, and I will try to continue to lead and help as much as I can.”

Hightower and his fiancé welcomed a newborn son, the couple’s first child, earlier in July. He is one of six Patriots — so far — to opt out of the upcoming season.

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Running back Brandon Bolden, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, guard Najee Toran, and fullback Dan Vitale all also have elected not to play amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“2020 has been a challenging year for our world,” Hightower’s statement continued. “I hope you can all continue to be a light in these dark times — more light and great times are ahead.”

With Hightower out for the year, the Patriots will be missing much of its linebackers corps from last season. Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts, and Kyle Van Noy all departed during free agency, which means third-year player Ja’Whaun Bentley, newcomer Brandon Copeland, and draft picks 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 scheduled to do the same later this week.

Read Hightower’s statement in full below:

Pats Nation, you have supported me unconditionally over the last 8 years. Through Super Bowl victories (3 of em!), season-ending injuries, the occasional “Boomtower” TD, strip sacks, 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 wasn’t an easy decision, or one I made lightly, but I do feel that it’s the best decision for my family at this time. I’m so grateful for the support of my teammates and coaches as well, and I will try to continue to lead and help as much as I can. 202 has been a challenging year for our world. I hope you can all continue to be a light in these dark times — more light and great times are ahead. Thank you and stay safe!


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