FOXBORO, Mass. — Dont’a Hightower isn’t putting on the pads anymore, but his new role with the New England Patriots isn’t all that dissimilar to that of his old one.

Hightower officially returned to New England on Feb. 9, when he was hired to join former teammate Jerod Mayo’s staff to coach inside linebackers. It took just two seasons away for the three-time Super Bowl champion to realize he needed to be back with the Patriots, with some encouragement from his wife helping push him toward a new challenge.

“No cap, I missed it whenever I walked away…,” Hightower said Wednesday. “I know my wife was really adamant about me getting out. Like, ‘You need to go to the bar. You need to go somewhere else and watch the games.’… I was still at home texting (Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts, Raekwon McMillan) and everybody throughout the games. I guess I’ve kind of been doing it for a long time, but it feels good to be in this spot.”

Hightower was long known as a coach on the field, and will now take his eye for the game to the sidelines. It won’t be without some bumps, but Mayo believes it will come to his former teammate.

Story continues below advertisement

“He came to me this morning and asked for advice,” Mayo said. “I was like, ‘Welcome to coaching!’ You think it’s about Xs and Os and getting guys to play for you, but it’s also a leadership role. I’m a huge believer that you manage processes, you don’t manage people. You lead people, and we bounced some ideas off each other but he has to come up with his own philosophy.”

It’s tough to find a better mentor than Mayo, who blazed the exact trail Hightower is now traveling. Mayo spent just three seasons away from the game, eventually returning to New England in the same inside linebackers role that he’d later hire Hightower to fill.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

“It’s been good. You know, obviously, there’s been a learning curve,” Hightower said of the transition. “… It’s like when I was playing, you got questions or problems you go to the guys who can give you the answers to those problems. I did that, and got some really good feedback, good information.”

Featured image via Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports Images