Patriots' defensive stalwart Ninkovich retires

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The star defensive-end announced his retirement on Sunday afternoon after eleven seasons in the NFL.

The most emotional time for the 33-year-old Ninkovich, who spoke after Belichick and owner Robert Kraft and the playing of a highlight montage of his New England career, was when he was thanking Patricia and Belichick. There weren't enough seats, so many sat on the floor, a group which included head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

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.

Ninkovich played in 131 National Football League games with 101 starts and recorded 425 total tackles, 46 sacks, five interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown, with 22 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles, 14 fumble recoveries and 28 special teams tackles.

This story will be updated.

Rob Ninkovich is speaking at his retirement news conference as Tom Brady, and many other teammates, listen intently.




The hard-nose linebacker was a fifth-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Ninkovich was also part of a pair of Super Bowl-winning teams with the Patriots.

This was the Patriots' way of giving Ninkovich, who arrived with his wife, Paige, and their daughter Olivia, the first-class send-off they feel he deserved. "Just a special, really special guy".

While his career on the field has come to an end, Ninkovich said he is looking to make a splash in the media part of the National Football League, and hinted towards an interest in broadcasting.

A tearful Ninkovich spoke directly to Belichick at the news conference.

"I love it here, and I'm going to miss it". 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. "Me and him have a great relationship, just being honest".

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