FOXBORO (CBS) — Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich announced his retirement after 11 years in the NFL in a press conference Sunday.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Ninkovich said. “After eleven seasons and nineteen seasons total playing football, it’s time for me to walk away, and I look forward to the next phase of my life.”
The 33-year-old veteran linebacker was a member of two Super Bowl Championship teams.
Coach Bill Belichick took the podium first, and praised Ninkovich for several minutes.
“Rob is one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever coached,” said head coach Bill Belichick.
Team owner Robert Kraft spoke next, saying that, “as a Patriot fan, it was pretty easy to like Rob Ninkovich.”
“New Englanders love rooting for the underdog, the blue-collar overachiever who hustles on every play and does the most to maximize their full potential,” said Kraft. “And Rob was truly that guy.”
Ninkovich played in 131 NFL games, had 101 starts, 425 tackles, 46 sacks, 5 interceptions. He played in 17 postseason games.
He became emotional at the end of the press conference.
“In closing, everybody out there with a dream, if you have a dream, just give it your best effort, give it everything you’ve got,” he said. “If you do that, you’ll get there, you’ll get to your dreams. And I’ve lived them.”