New England Patriots defensive linebacker Rob Ninkovich is “heartbroken” with the NFL’s decision to suspend him after testing positive for banned substance. However, Ninkovich stressed that he accepted the decision recover from a triceps injury.
Ninkovich told Mike Reiss of ESPN that he accepts the decision even though he is innocent of taking any performance enhancing drug (PED). He adds that the issue had tarnished his name and reputation but has learned a lesson.
“Few things are more important to me than my name and reputation. This might call that into question for some, which has me, heartbroken,” Ninkovich said. “I don’t want to cut any corners. I want to do things the right way, with high integrity, and that’s what I have always wanted to stand for.”
The Patriots' Rob Ninkovich was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's PED policy. https://t.co/rj30YxbJDQ
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) September 3, 2016
The suspension may come as a blessing in disguise as he had a torn triceps which he suffered during a joint training camp with the New Orleans Saints. Ninkovich is not due to see action until October when they take on the Cleveland Browns.
The only regret that the 32-year old veteran had been that he did not double-check the label of the supplement that he took.
“One thing I have learned is that if a supplement is not NSF certified there are no regulations that make sure that what is on the label is 100 percent right. That is a hard lesson for me to learn at this stage in my career, but I take responsibility for it. It’s a mistake I made and it hurts that I can’t be there for my teammates,” Ninkovich explained.
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) September 3, 2016
NFL.com notes that Ninkovich drove New England’s front seven in snaps last season. He had an average of 6.5 sacks and a career-high seven pass deflections. Ninkovich boasts the third-longest streak of consecutive games played (102) among NFL defensive ends.
With the suspension, Ninkovich will use the time to recover from his injury, gather himself and prove that he is clean. As Ninkovich serves his suspension and gets on the road to recovery, the Patriots will have to depend on Chris Long, Jabaal Sheard, Shea McClellin and second-year players Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom and Rufus Johnson to step up in his place.
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