Rob Ninkovich announced his retirement Sunday.
The resulting story was one of the highlights of Ninkovich's farewell speech in front of family, teammates, coaches, Patriots staff and media members. The pass-rushing linebacker played 11 seasons and told reporters he was listening to his body in deciding to retire before a 12th year in the NFL.
Ninkovich played in 131 National Football League games, had 101 starts, 425 tackles, 46 sacks, 5 interceptions. Drafted by New Orleans in the fifth round (No. 135 overall) of the 2006 Draft, Ninkovich played in merely eight games his first three seasons. "[He] didn't come in with a lot of fanfare but just came in and worked hard and became a very, very versatile player for us".
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"Rob is one of the most unselfish players I've ever coached", Belichick said Sunday.
"It's with really mixed emotions that stand here today to congratulate Rob on just a tremendous, tremendous football and personal career", Belichick said. But I knew that my time was probably close, and this training made it clear for me that when you go squat and you're sore for a week, it's not a good thing. "There's something to be said about going out on top".
Van Noy joined the team in late October and contributed 27 tackles, an interception and an 8-yard sack in the remaining regular-season games, as well as seven tackles and a half-sack in the playoffs. "I'm so grateful for the Patriots organization". "When I was released in 2009 from the Saints as a long snapper, I hadn't played in three years, and I had no tape". Belichick, during his remarks before Ninkovich's announcement, happily attributed Ninkovich's toughness to his Croatian heritage (which Belichick shares) and his background with iron-working.
"For him to have the success he had, not only as a player, but as a teammate, someone who had a chance to win Super Bowls, I'm excited for him", Payton said. I love this game.