Rob Ninkovich shares a realistic view on being an aging NFL veteran
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Rob Ninkovich has achieved more than he could ever imagine in his 11-year NFL career.
The New England Patriots defensive end/linebacker had originally hoped to play for three or four years or long enough to earn his pension, but has accomplished way beyond that. He is entering this 12th year in the league and earned two Super Bowl rings.
And he’s not done yet.
Although he’s still healthy and a big part of the team, the 33-year-old is just trying to enjoy what he calls “bonus time” in the league. Ninkovich knows the end is nearing for him, but he’s focusing on one year at a time and providing all the knowledge and assistance he can to the younger guys on the squad.
With Trey Flowers on the rise and the Patriots’ recent signing of a few edge rushers, Ninkovich understands that the team is trying to build for the future.
“You try to help the younger guys because they remember that,” Ninkovich said, “When I was younger, the guys that helped you, you appreciated, as opposed to the guys worrying about you taking their job. It’s silly. I know my job is going to be taken. I understand that. I don’t lose sleep over it because I’ve had such a successful career.”
He later continued, “Once you get to an age, you’re like ‘All right, I’m going to help these guys and give them everything I know to help them out to give them the best possible chance at being successful.’ It’s almost like you’re returning the favor to the football gods.”
Before this happens, there’s still work to be done. Ninko is currently sitting at 46 career sacks and hopes to get 50 before he retires.
But he knows his time is coming, that’s why he appreciates each and every practice, game and season that much more.