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Longtime Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower retires from NFL

Linebacker Dont'a Hightower spent his entire nine-year NFL career with the New England Patriots. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI
1 of 5 | Linebacker Dont'a Hightower spent his entire nine-year NFL career with the New England Patriots. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo

March 21 (UPI) -- Longtime New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who won three Super Bowl titles, will retire from the NFL, he announced Tuesday.

Hightower, who opted out of the 2021 season due to COVID-19 and did not play in 2022, made the announcement in an article for the Players' Tribune.

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"I know these announcements always feel bittersweet, but I can't think of a better story than the one I wrote in New England," Hightower wrote.

"A decade, three Super Bowls, two Pro Bowls, and the birth of my son -- all playing for one franchise. How many guys have a story like that?"

Hightower, 33, entered the league as the No. 25 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He totaled 64 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pass defensed in 15 starts in 2021.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection logged 71 combined tackles, eight tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, four passes defensed, a fumble recovery and a touchdown in 15 starts in 2019.

Hightower logged 569 combined tackles, 43 tackles for a loss, 27 sacks, 18 passes defensed, five fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and an interception in 117 career appearances for the Patriots.

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