The New England Patriots linebacker, Dont’a Hightower, has elected to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season due to concerns surrounding the Coronavirus. He is the fifth Patriots player, and the highest-profile player, to opt-out of the season. Reports are that offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, fullback Danny Vitale, offensive lineman Najee Toran, and running back Brandon Bolden have also opted out.
Patriots’ three-time Super-Bowl champion and Pro-Bowl ILB Dont’a Hightower is opting out of the 2020 season, league sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 28, 2020
Hightower is scheduled to make $8 million in base salary. He had a baby July 16.
Hightower and his betrothed just had their first child together on July 16th, a son. Per Ian Rapaport, Hightower announced that he and his fiancee “are just more concerned with the health of our family than football – especially with the new addition to our family.”
Having become a parent myself last year, I totally respect and understand this. My child went straight to the NICU after birth, an experience that was terrifying beyond anything I could have imagined. With a virus such as COVID going around, I can understand the new parent in him not wanting anything to happen to his son.
This is exactly what I have been saying. If you have concerns for the Coronavirus and you would rather sit for a year to avoid the risks, that’s your decision. Do it. The NFL is protecting your right to do so.
Hightower has taken some heat, however, from Patriots fans on social media who decided to raise their voices against his decision.
Good choice of careers when safety is your goal 👍🏻— 𝕂. 𝔼. ✭ (@KevinErly) July 28, 2020
I would leave my entire family and never return for 8 million dollars— Jagger James (@JaggerJames_) July 28, 2020
He’s beyond ignorant to make this decision. His choice, but if he took 2 minutes to educate himself about the virus and who’s at risk and the overall 99.8-99.9% survival rate, he’d be playing this fall.— Ken (@kwbarn14) July 28, 2020
I think that decisions need to be respected, especially in this sport. Football is a violent sport, people get injured, and it takes a mental toll on people who play it. For those who may be borderline with the risks, I can see how a virus that the world has struggled to contain can push certain players over the top.
Respect their decisions. This is a job, they don’t have to stay with it. They can pick a new line of work if they so choose. They have to do what’s best for their family.
I know I would.