3 February 2012
For Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich the road from construction worker to Super Bowl starter isn’t one travelled by many of the players that will take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.
A stop at Joliet Junior College preceded Ninkovich’s career at Purdue University which helped pave the way to a member of the Patriots linebacker corps.
The days of junior college seems like light years away for Ninkovich as he fielded questions at Super Media Day on Tuesday.
Prior to deciding to attend Joliet Junior College, Ninkovich worked from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. during the summer with his dad’s construction company.
Even though he will be on the game’s grandest stage come this weekend he will never forget what he has gone through for the opportunity that presents itself on Sunday.
“Coming out of high school I really wasn’t the biggest guy so I had to put on some weight, really develop, mature,” Ninkovich said. “That was the best option for me was to go to JJC and it made you really appreciate everything because I had my high school pads on. I had to buy my cleats, one pair of gloves the whole season, drive to practice every day, drive to games. It really just made me more hungry to continue.”
After two seasons at Joliet, Ninkovich made the move to Division 1 electing to play at Purdue University. During Ninkovich’s two seasons in West Lafayette, he made five starts and was named second team All-Big Ten during his senior year.
Despite playing behind future NFL defensive ends Ray Edwards and Anthony Spencer, Ninkovich’s dream never wavered.
“I think that Purdue is obviously a great program and we’ve got a lot of guys in the NFL, a lot of defensive ends that were a little bit undersized and moved to the outside linebacker spot,” Ninkovich said. “It’s a great school, and I had great memories of being at Purdue.”
A native of Blue Island, Ill., Ninkovich will be playing just a few hours away from his hometown this weekend.
Ticket demand has been high for Ninkovich but he cut the list at five before the chaos became too immense.
“Just my family, mom, dad, sister, nephew, fiancé that’s it, because once you give a ticket to a cousin, everybody else wants one too, can’t open the floodgates,” Ninkovich said.
The professional career for Ninkovich has also been well traveled as he has bounced with three teams since 2007 before finding his niche in New England.
He has started every game this season at outside linebacker and now he hopes all the hard work will lead to the opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
“I’ve always had to prove people wrong I guess,” Ninkovich said. “My whole life I’ve been turning heads, guys just kind of overlook you and you go out there and just perform, because really your performance is what defines you as a player.”
Posted by: Kevin Bowen
Posted in Colts Blog