I heard the news yesterday that Rib Ninkovic retired, and I’m sad to see him go.
He was an excellent pass rusher and edge defender. Though he had trouble starting for the Dolphins and Saints, Bill Belichick knows how to maximize a player’s impact, and Ninkovic ended up being a major piece of two super bowl runs.
I think his best feature as a player was that he had a “nose for the ball”. He knew how to get to the quarterback, and seemed to be in the right place to cause or pick up fumbles. In the last decade, he’s the only player in the NFL to have 45+ sacks AND 14+ fumble recoveries. He was also noted for being able to guide opposing linemen in ways that gave him and teammates access to ball carriers and quarterbacks.
Ninkovic was a great Patriot: quiet, humble, and diligent. He embodied the “do your job” mentality well. Someday he may be in the Patriots Hall of Fame, along with his numerical predecessor Mike Vrabel. The Patriots will have a hard time making up for the impact he had on their defensive success.