The “career transactions” section of Rob Ninkovich’s biography in the Patriots’ media guide is quite lengthy — in all, he’d been cut four times by the Dolphins and Saints, going back and forth between the practice squad and 53-man roster for both teams before arriving in New England during training camp last season.
Ninkovich arrived at Gillette Stadium with little fanfare; in his first three seasons, he had played in a total of eight games, all as a reserve and special teamer. But in his first season with the Patriots, he played in 15 games, primarily on special teams, though he did also see time at linebacker.
This year he’s taken yet another step forward — he’s collected the first nine starts of his career, and posted a memorable two-interception game in Miami.
Ninkovich often walks through the locker room wearing a gray, faded t-shirt from his alma mater, Illinois’ Lincoln-Way Central High.
First job: I did landscaping in the summer – $7.50 an hour.
First car: It was an ’87 Mustang…it was yellow! It was a good car – it had 230,000 miles. It was for sale three houses down from ours and my dad (Mike) got it for $1,000 maybe, and we put $500 into it to get it to run right.
Favorite meal: I have a lot of those [laughs]. I’d say my grandmother’s chicken parm – that’s good stuff.
Heavy rotation on my ipod: A lot of country – Craig Morgan, Blake Shelton.
My hero: I’d have to say my father. I look up to my father; he’s a hard worker.
Favorite athlete in another sport: Michael Jordan, being from Chicago. I never got to see him play – it was too expensive.
Pre-game ritual: I try and not thing about playing football, listen to a lot of easy music, classical stuff.
Prized possession: My chain – it’s a St. Christopher medallion. My father wore it in Vietnam and he gave it to me.
If they made a movie about my life…I’d go with George Clooney (to play him) from 10 years ago. He’s one of the all-time actors. It would be a good story of overcoming all odds. With a country soundtrack.