Patriots’ Ninkovich suspended for PEDs
Defensive end to miss four games; more players join Kaepernick’s anthem protest
The NFL suspended New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich on Friday for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
It is the latest blow to the Patriots, who will also be without quarterback Tom Brady the first four games as he serves a league-imposed suspension for his role in the “Deflategate” case.
Like Brady, Ninkovich will not be eligible to return to the Patriots’ active roster until Oct. 3, after the team’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
Ninkovich told ESPN that he is devastated and shocked, and said he would never knowingly take an illegal substance.
“Few things are more important to me than my name and reputation. This might call that into question for some, which has me heartbroken,” Ninkovich said. “I don’t want to cut any corners. I want to do things the right way, with high integrity, and that’s what I have always wanted to stand for.”
The 32-year-old has not played this preseason after suffering a reported triceps injury during a joint training camp practice with the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 9. He had returned to practice recently, but had participated only in light conditioning.
Ninkovich was a defensive captain in 2015 and had 52 tackles and 61⁄ sacks.
Perhaps more important than his production, he has been New England’s ironman on defense, playing in102 consecutive regular-season games. That is behind only the Green Bay Packers’ Julius Peppers and the Indianapolis Colts’ Kendall Langford, who have both played in 128 straight games. Kaepernick has company: While a naval officer sang the first notes of “The StarSpangled Banner” and dozens of military members unfurled an enormous flag on the football field, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid dropped to one knee on the San Francisco 49ers’ sideline.
With his silent gestures of protest, Kaepernick intends to keep drawing attention to a litany of American problems — and he’s no longer alone.
Kaepernick and Reid knelt during the national anthem Thursday before the 49ers’ 31-21 preseason victory over San Diego, ignoring scattered boos and angry shouts in Qualcomm Stadium at the Chargers’ Salute to the Military preseason game.
Up north in Oakland, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane showed his support for Kaepernick by sitting on the bench during the anthem.
“I’m not anti-American. I love America,” said Kaepernick, who stayed on the field long after the game to sign autographs for fans. “I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better, and I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from.”
Kaepernick’s protest has dominated the public discussion of the nation’s most popular sport this week, and his stance has been met with both passionate condemnation and firm support. His refusal to stand for the anthem first came to public notice last week when he remained seated on the 49ers’ bench before a preseason game against Green Bay.
The quarterback cited numerous reasons for his actions, ranging from racial injustice and minority oppression to police brutality and the treatment of military veterans.
Kaepernick said he plans to continue his protests during the regular season. He also intends to donate $1 million “to different organizations to help these communities and help these people.” The 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem before a preseason game against the Chargers on Thursday. Browns add Paea: The Cleveland Brown signed defensive lineman Stephen Paea, a 2011 second-round pick released this week by the Washington Redskins. The 6-foot-1, 310-pound Paea gives the Browns some depth and versatility up front.
With Desmond Bryant out for the season with a chest injury and Armonty Bryant scheduled to miss four games because of his suspension for a drug violation, the Browns were in the market for line help.
Before the Browns announced his signing, Paea posted a picture on Twitter of him signing his new contract with the caption “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”