Pa­tri­ots’ Ninkovich re­tires

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - SPORTS -

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots de­fen­sive stal­wart Rob Ninkovich capped his 11year NFL ca­reer by an­nounc­ing his re­tire­ment Sun­day af­ter the team’s morn­ing prac­tice at Gil­lette Sta­dium.

Since join­ing the Pa­tri­ots in 2009, Ninkovich had proven to be one of the team’s most durable and de­pend­able play­ers.

A de­fen­sive end and line­backer, he was a two-time co-cap­tain and won two Su­per Bowls with New Eng­land. But he didn’t take the eas­i­est route to get there.

A fifth-round pick by the New Or­leans Saints in 2006, he was waived four times by the Saints and Mi­ami Dol­phins be­fore join­ing the Pa­tri­ots just be­fore the start of the 2009 sea­son — af­ter spend­ing that off­sea­son try­ing to make the Saints as a long snap­per.

Be­fore join­ing New Eng­land, he had ap­peared in just eight games over three sea­sons.

With New Eng­land he missed just one game, in 2009, be­fore last sea­son, when he started the sea­son with a four-game sus­pen­sion for vi­o­lat­ing the NFL’s pol­icy on the use of per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing sub­stances. From 20112015, he started ev­ery reg­u­lar-sea­son game.

He played in 131 games with 101 starts, with 425 tack­les, 46 sacks, and five in­ter­cep­tions, in­clud­ing one he re­turned for a touch­down in 2011. He also ap­peared in 17 play­off games, all with New Eng­land, mak­ing 16 starts, with 64 to­tal tack­les and six sacks.

Ninkovich had been ab­sent since train­ing camp started on Thurs­day, for what the team called per­sonal rea­sons.

“I wanted to make sure I made the right choice,” Ninkovich said. “That was talk­ing with my fam­ily, and look­ing at the pros and cons. And com­ing in as a guy that had been cut a bunch, I’ve had in­juries, I’ve had knee in­juries that were close to be­ing ca­reerend­ing.

“It’s lasted me 11 years so I’m happy I’ve had that dura­bil­ity there. There’s a time where that dura­bil­ity doesn’t last as long. I’m just happy that I was able to play for this or­ga­ni­za­tion as long as I have.

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

Ninkovich made the an­nounce­ment sur­rounded by Pa­tri­ots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and the coach­ing staff, and many team­mates in­clud­ing quar­ter­back Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, cap­tain Matthew Slater, safety Devin McCourty, de­fen­sive tackle Alan Branch, line­backer Dont’a Hightower and re­ceivers Julian Edel­man and Danny Amen­dola.

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