Ever since announcing his retirement in 2017, former New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich has been focused on giving back.
Including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro raising money for Chris Long’s “Waterboys” foundation. What his former teammate never told him, was how difficult climbing it would be.
“Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was definitely not easy,” Ninkovich told Prime Time Sports Talk. “It was for a great cause, the Waterboys. What Chris Long has created there is something special, so to go out there and experience it and actually see what those water wells are doing for the people, and the kids are doing for clean water is very impactful. So I was very happy to have that life experience.”
Would he do it again?
“Probably not,” Ninkovich laughed. “It’s very tough, Chris was telling me that, ‘It wasn’t so bad’ but when I was on the mountain he’s like, ‘Yeah this really sucks.'”
The two-time Super Bowl champion, while he may not climb Kilimanjaro again, will still take part in what he believes is a great cause.
“I am definitely a part of Waterboys,” Ninkovich said. “I will definitely continue to be a part of that.”
In edition, Ninkovich serves on the board of directors of the Light Foundation.
The foundation run by former Patriots left tackle Matt Light, is a non-profit group that helps at-risk kids lead a better lifestyle through outdoor activity.
“I work with the Light Foundation and they do awesome work as well,” Ninkovich said. “Trying to help kids from inner cities all around the country you know not going in the right direction and help them through youth camps in Ohio, it’s pretty special stuff and I am happy to be a part of that as well.”
Ninkovich says the onus is on them as icons in their community to help the ones in need.
“That’s the platform that athletics give professional athletes, you have a specific platform and I believe it’s our obligation to try and give back as much as possible,” Ninkovich said. “We have a very, very big impact in our community and I think that it’s our responsibility to do the things in our community for the good and impact it in a positive way.”
Ninkovich returns to the field now and then. This time swapping pads for a microphone as a member of the media.
“I still do some stuff in the media for [the Patriots],” Ninkovich said. “I am kind of also moving on to doing some commentating and observing, now I’m a fan [of football].”
Ninkovich understands the aggravation the media sometimes brings to players and finds it kind of funny to be on the other side of the coin.
“I’m biased because I played for a long time so I understand the frustration of some of the players when they do read something or hear something that might not be accurate,” Ninkovich said. “With playing so long and having understanding of what a player has to go through throughout the season, I can be a little less critical on certain things and just focus on football, what they are trying accomplish, what are the things that are not working and what the other teams are doing well. For me it’s just covering football, what are the plays, what’s the defense, what’s the offense running, that’s kind of the thing I want to do.”
It has been a learning curve for Ninkovich, who described the struggle with some of the little aggravating things when it comes to broadcasting.
“[I had trouble] with, ‘You know’s’ so when you’re live on TV you can’t say, ‘You know’ and some of those easy words where people go, ‘Um, Uh, An,'” Ninkovich said. “Just trying to be smooth and understanding that, ‘Hey [you have to] get to the point, be crisp, be precise, and move on to the next thing.'”
Ninkovich though said it has been adjustment, has enjoyed what has come with a life after football.
“You miss it but you don’t miss the pain and the Advil you take everyday but I had great run and I had a great time,” Ninkovich said. “I am [now] a full-time Dad, I have two little ones and one on the way so I’ll have three soon, it’s definitely been a change not playing football but I love it.”
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