Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich was one of a few Patriots representatives in attendance for Team IMPACT's "Game Day Gala" at the Marriott - Copley Place on Thursday night. The event helped raise money for the organization, which pairs children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses with college athletic teams.
Ninkovich was joined by Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, special teams ace Matthew Slater as well as president of the Kraft Group International Dan Kraft, who is a co-chair and one of the founding members of Team IMPACT.
Here are some of the highlights from Ninkovich's conversation with reporters:
On what it's like to go through the offseason as a defending champion: "I've always been really close, but it's awesome to have been able to do that. Now it's time to hit the reset button because everyone's going to be looking at us and trying to come after us.
"You always have to be prepared. The history of the Patriots, we've always been a very good football team, and a lot of other teams like to measure themselves accordingly. Again, I think that every year is a new year. With me going into my 10th I'm learning that. You just gotta kind of start all over. You forget about everything that happened last year. It was awesome. It was great to win a Super Bowl, and it took me a long time to do it. Now it's just focusing in on '15, a new year, and I'm excited."
On how the Patriots defense will feel different after losing Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Vince Wilfork to free agency: "There's always turnover. That's just the way that this game works. Every team is gonna have something -- a new wrinkle, a new person, a new scheme. It happens everywhere so you work hard in the offseason, you put in your time, that's where you have success . . .
"There's always gonna be turnaround. There's always going to be change. And when you have the best coach in the NFL, he's able to help everybody. And it starts when we get back in the offseason, OTAs, minicamp, training camp. That's where everything starts. To have a successful season, you gotta lay the bricks first."
On the contract boost he received this offseason that reportedly took his 2015 salary from $2.45 million to $5 million: "I've been here a long time and I wanted to be here. This is a place where everything has happened for me so it was a great thing on both ends that we were able to just talk about things. I really don't want to get into the details of it, but I'm going to go out there and play like I've always played, and if you do that, then everything else takes care of itself. I'll go out there and keep doing my job and making plays. That's what you're supposed to do."
On new Patriots edge defender Jabaal Sheard: "He's a younger guy -- 25 I think. Sky is the limit for him. He's a young guy. He's had production in the league. He's a good football player. I'm happy that he's gonna be with us."
On going into his tenth season: "Tenth year. Thirty-one [years old]. Is thirty-one old? I'm good. I feel great. I had a great season again. I'm gonna have another good offseason. I'm always trying to get better. I gotta break that eight [sacks] number. The last three years I've been at eight, so I need to get to 8 or more. I've been thinking about that for the last two years.
"It's been a blast. I just gotta continue to enjoy it because when you start saying 10, 11, 12 [years], then there's not much after that. I'm just happy to have the opportunity that I've had here."
On his involvement with Team IMPACT: "Team Impact, the things that they do for the community and the children, it's awesome to be a part of that. Not only for the kids that they're helping, the teams that are a part of it to lift the spirits of everyone involved. Happy to be here. Happy to support everything that it's about and it's a great, great thing . . .
"The [college] athletes are tremendous. The things that they're able to do, helping the kids out, whatever it is. I think that it helps both sides. That's the best thing about what this is. It's everyone helping each other, really."