Sports

Patriots Defensive End Rob Ninkovich Expected to Retire

Patriots Defensive End Rob Ninkovich Expected to Retire

His career flourished in New England, and he finished his National Football League career with 460 tackles, 46 sacks, 23 passes defensed, 14 fumble recoveries, 10 forced fumbles, five interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.

Ninkovich was entering his ninth season with the Patriots. He was a team captain in 2013 and 2015 and was a big part of bringing two championships to the team.

Ninkovich began his career with the New Orleans Saints, and called his release from the Saints a "blessing" for how it allowed him to begin his career with the Pats. He started in 94 consecutive games over the course of his career in New England. He also appeared in 16 postseason games, collecting 34 tackles, six sacks and an interception.

"It's been such a blessing and a heck of a run", Ninkovich said. "That was talking with my family, and looking at the pros and cons".

"I'm so grateful to the Patriots organization ... man, it's been so much fun".

"It wasn't an easy decision". After 11 seasons, and 19 seasons total playing football, it's time for me to walk away", Ninkovich said, "and I look forward to the next phase of my life.

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Ninkovich made the announcement Sunday afternoon at a news conference at Gillette Stadium. "Nick [Caserio] said 'There's a guy, Rob, he should be on a roster, he should be in a camp and he's available so let's get him.' Really, it's just history after that".

Belichick spoke first and noted how Ninkovich is one of the most unselfish players he's ever coached. He developed into a highly respected teammate and mentor to younger players.

A tearful Ninkovich spoke directly to Belichick at the news conference. I hope it was enough. "I love this game". Ninkovich took one shot at the Dolphins during the questions and answers portion of his retirement ceremony.

"He's had a fabulous career", Payton said.

"He won two Super Bowls in New England". He was a little bit of a 'Was he a linebacker? But when he was on New England he was uncuttable. "I know he's a great teammate as well". He is a pro of all pros.


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