There are bigger names on the the New England Patriots than Rob Ninkovich, and they all embody the very definition of “The Patriot Way”…
…but only one player had the intuition and wherewithal to be in the right place at exactly the right time, making huge play after huge play – and it just happens to be a guy who wasn’t even offered a college scholarship – a guy that worked his way through Junior college by hanging off of bridges and high rises, setting iron beams with his father.
It was kind of scary,” Ninkovich said of working that high off the ground. “But it opened my eyes that I didn’t want to be an iron worker the rest of my life.”
Rob Ninkovich eventually worked his way onto the squad at Purdue University and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints – but his road to being the “Hippie Award” Patriot of the Year was as rough and tumble as the vocation that he left behind to become an integral part of the New England Patiots’ defense.
The Patriot of the Year is the most prestigious of all of the “Hippie Award”s as it encompasses desire and passion for the game of football, putting heart and soul into each moment of preparation and leaving it all out on the field come Sunday.
Many New England Patriots do just that and many were deserving of this award, but only one was voted by the fans – and while it is true that the Patriots’ way is all about teamwork and sacrificing for the team, it is also true that it takes determined individuals to make up that team, and someone is going to stick out as a leader…and Ninkovich did that by example.
More than just about anyone else, Ninkovich’s heart and determination can not be measured on the stat line, though his 8 sacks led an improving pass rush working opposite rookie Chandler Jones and in Tandem with names like Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo…but no one was in the right place at the right time more than “Nink”.
So pronounced was his efforts, that he also has earned or been part of three other “Hippie Awards”, including Defensive Player of the Year, Clutch Play of the Year and as a result was smack in the middle of the Image of the Year .
It’s hard to image that a player could perform any better in the role that Ninkovich has made his own, but the simple truth of the matter is that Rob Ninkovich has just begun to come into his own, and is just as solid as a football player for the New England Patriots as the iron beams were that he set with his father on the Chicago skyline…
…and is someone that any parent would be happy to point out as a role model for a child that faces adversity, not just in football, but in any aspect in life.
We thank Rob Ninkovich for his professionalism, dedication and attitude, and are proud to honor him with this, the inaugural “Hippie Award” for Patriot of the Year!