Patriots

Patriots' Dont'a Hightower explains decision to opt out of 2020 season

Patriots

Dont'a Hightower is the most high-profile NFL player to date to opt out of the 2020 season.

So, what factored into his decision to not to play this season?

The New England Patriots linebacker told NFL Media's Ian Rapoport he's prioritizing the health of his family amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Me and my fiancée are just more concerned with the health of our family than football — especially the new addition to our family," Hightower told Rapoport.

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Hightower and his fiancée welcomed a baby boy on July 16. Hightower's mother, L'Tanya, also has Type 2 diabetes, and the 30-year-old linebacker holds annual fundraisers for the American Diabetes Association.

Hightower joins offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, safety Patrick Chung, running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Danny Vitale and offensive guard Najee Toran among the Patriots players who already have opted out of the 2020 season, joining a handful of others players around the league who also won't play this fall.

Players are expected to report to training camp this week after the NFL and NFL Players Assocation agreed to a return-to-play plan last Friday. But Hightower seemingly isn't comfortable enough with that plan to put his family at risk amid the the COVID-19 pandemic, and it appears he isn't alone.