After 11 NFL seasons, New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich says he is retiring.
"It wasn't an easy decision, after 11 seasons, 19 years in total playing football," Ninkovich said. "I look forward to my next phase in life."
Ninkovich made the announcement Sunday afternoon at a news conference at Gillette Stadium. The two-time co-captain called his time with the Patriots "such a blessing" and "a heck of a run."
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Ninkovich spent the last eight seasons with the Patriots and was part of two Super Bowl Championship teams. Overall, Ninkovich played 131 NFL games.
Addressing head coach Bill Belichick, Ninkovich said, "I gave you everything I had and I hope it was enough. I love this game."
“Personally, [I] just can’t thank you enough for your contributions to the team [and] to the organization," Belichick said at the press conference.
The 33-year-old has been absent from training camp for what Belichick had described as "personal reasons." Public training camp practice for the Patriots will resume on Tuesday morning.
Ninkovich signed with the Patriots as a free agent in 2009 after playing with the New Orleans' Saints and Miami Dolphins.