Tom Brady, Malcolm Butler and Julian Edelman are widely considered the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX heroes, but Dont’a Hightower deserves credit as well.
If the Patriots linebacker was unwilling to play through a painful torn labrum in his shoulder, there’s a possibility New England wouldn’t even have made the Super Bowl.
Hightower’s shoulder first popped up on the Patriots’ injury report Wednesday, Dec. 3. He suffered the torn labrum in Week 13 against the Green Bay Packers and missed just one snap that game. He sat out the Patriots’ Week 14 and 17 matchups, but played five games, including the playoffs, with the injury.
Hightower made a key stop in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX victory over the Seattle Seahawks, when he stopped running back Marshawn Lynch short of a touchdown on first and goal. Butler made his game-winning interception on the next play.
?I?ll take a torn shoulder any day to get a Super Bowl ring,? Hightower told the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian on Wednesday.
Hightower underwent surgery in February, so even a seven-month recovery timetable would put him on pace to play Week 1 of the 2015 season. Hightower sounds optimistic about his rehab.
?Right now, I?m doing well,” Hightower told the Herald. “The doc likes everything he?s seen. I just had my checkup. I?m right on track, if not better. I?m not sure what I?m going to be able to do as far as OTAs and training camp and all that other stuff goes. But I?m looking forward to being back.?
The Patriots offseason program begins April 20, when players can reconvene and train with coaches at Gillette Stadium. Organized team activities begin May 26. Players get a month-long break starting June 18 until training camp begins in late July.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports