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Rob Ninkovich announces his retirement

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Rob Ninkovich #50 of the New England Patriots prior to Super Bowl 51 against the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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Reports that Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich would announce his retirement appeared on Sunday morning and Ninkovich made it official on Sunday afternoon.

The team held a press conference attended by many of Ninkovich’s teammates and kicked it off with coach Bill Belichick at the podium to talk about a player who joined the team in 2009 and was part of two Super Bowl champions. Belichick noted that Ninkovich, who had stints with the Saints and Dolphins before coming to New England, came in without any fanfare before carving out a key role as a linebacker and defensive end.

Belichick called Ninkovich one of the most unselfish players he’s ever coached and owner Robert Kraft lauded him as one of the most “productive, albeit unassuming” players in the league before Ninkovich stepped up to the microphone.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but after 11 seasons and 19 years playing football it’s time for me to walk away,” Ninkovich said.

Ninkovich called getting released by the Saints in 2009 a blessing because it allowed him to join the Patriots and got emotional at times as he ran through a long list of people he thanked for making an impact on his career dating back to high school. He closed his remarks by saying there’s something special about going out on top and then going to hug the Patriots players who will be trying to stay on top without his help this season.