Patriots' Rob Ninkovich announces his retirement after 11 National Football League seasons

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There were rumors, reports and murmurs surrounding Rob Ninkovich's football future after he was absent for the first day of New England Patriots training camp Thursday. Ninkovich's retirement opens up $685,000 in cap space while creating $1.05 million in dead money. Ninkovich choked up several times during his delivery, including when he spoke directly to Belichick.

A news conference was held Sunday at Gillette Stadium, where Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft spoke before they showed a highlight reel of Ninkovich's best moments.

Ninkovich was also part of a pair of Super Bowl-winning teams with the Patriots. I hope I can take that knowledge you've given me over the years, and if I'm coaching or in football or doing something, and pass it on to the next group of guys. The Patriots have done this in the past with their unbelievable organization and coach.

A fifth-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 2006, he was waived four times by the Saints and Miami Dolphins before joining the Patriots just before the start of the 2009 season - after spending that offseason trying to make the Saints as a long snapper.

"There's something to be said about going out on top", Ninkovich said Sunday.

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To special-teams captain Matthew Slater, he said, "I love you, brother". "I never coached a more unselfish player".

On the multiple television screens in the room read the following message: "Thank you Rob Ninkovich, 2X Super Bowl champ".

There were some laughs too, with Ninkovich saying he looked forward to tailgating, something he hasn't done before. If I am not mistaken early in his career he bounced around a little bit and been cut a couple of times. "I love this game". But when he was on New England he was uncuttable. "He's Croatian so I knew he was tough". He is a pro of all pros.

New England brought him on board, and he has been a core member of the team's defense ever since. "Congratulations to him and his career".

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