After he opted out of the 2020 season, former Alabama All-American Dont’a Hightower left some wondering if his football days were over. But after a return to the New England Patriots this week for a minicamp, Hightower told reporters that he hopes to put retirement talk to rest, for now.

“All them rumors about retirement – y’all had me thinking somebody was trying to kick me out,” Hightower said during a press conference on Tuesday, per “I did what I did for what I thought was the betterment of my family. Obviously, I feel a little different in the situation I’m in now, but if I had to go back and do it, I would absolutely do it again, so it was literally just for the season. I wasn’t planning one, two steps ahead or anything like that.”

Hightower was re-signed by the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. He was drafted by New England in the first round (25th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft. Hightower is one of the best Patriots in recent memory, as he is a three-time Super Bowl champion, was selected to the Patriots 2010s All-Decade Team, a three-time team captain in 2016, 2017 and 2019, and a Pro Bowler in 2016 and 2019.

Hightower doubled down on his return when pressed.

“I don’t know what y’all want me to say,” Hightower said. “I’m here. I’m working. I’m in minicamp. But I’m not here to write a story for you, dog; I’m here to work. I’m here. I don’t know what else y’all need me to say. If I wasn’t here, then I think that would probably be something to talk about. But I’m here, so, hopefully, that knocks all those questions out.”