Ninkovich's blue-collar work ethic key to Patriots' defense
INDIANAPOLIS -- Sterling Moore, James Ihedigbo, Benjarvis Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Kyle Arrington are all players that were either undrafted, or tossed to the curb by another team, but they've found a home here with the Patriots.
Rob Ninkovich is also one of those players, and a persone who definitely appreciates the opportunity and the unique journey that got him here.
“There’s nothing wrong with being a hard working, working outside physical labor. It’s an honorable job,” said Rob Ninkovich, Patriots outside linebacker.
Ninkovich learned the value of hard work from his father, an iron worker in Chicago, and spent a summer during his junior college days working side by side with his dad.
“He was just trying to teach me, ‘I want you to go to school, I want you to get an education and I don’t want you outside in negative 10 degrees sitting on iron,” said Ninkovich.
Ninkovich got the message loud and clear, and it helped him navigate the pitfalls of an unheralded player's journey to NFL stability.
“I always had written goals. Just kind of something that if you can -- at the end of the year -- cross out all those goals then you’re closing to achieving what you want in life,” Ninkovich said.
The Patriots linebacker represents everything Bill Belichick loves in a football player, and his equal opportunity philosophy has paid dividends for players like Ninkovich.
“I told the entire team, ‘I don’t care how you got here. It’s what you do when you get here,’” said Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. “It doesn’t matter whether you were drafted in the second round, the fifth round, weren’t drafted at all, 10 years in the league, one year in the league. We’re going to play the best players.”
Ninkovich has earned his playing time and the payoff will be suiting up on Super Sunday, but his accomplishments will extend way beyond a Vince Lombardi trophy.
“To know you built something, you help the community every time you go over a bridge that you put up, it’s cool to say, ‘Hey, I helped build this,’” said Ninkovich.
He helped build the defense into a unit capable of and it begins with that blue collar attitude, shown by his beard that he hasn’t shaved since the Patriots lost to the Giants earlier in the regular season, and would love nothing more than shaving in the reflection of Vince Lombardi's trophy.
(Copyright (c) 2011 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)