One of the biggest stories in sports media from the past week was the news that Mark Sanchez was retiring from the NFL to become an analyst at ESPN. Sanchez, obviously, was the quarterback of the New England Patriots’ arch rival New York Jets. Arguably most famous for the “butt fumble,” Sanchez was mocked relentlessly by ESPN for that play during his career, but he always seemed to take it in stride. Now, he is going to work for them.
But there was another hire by ESPN that flew a bit under the radar. This week, the network also announced that they were adding former Patriots outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich as an analyst for their NFL coverage. Ninkovich is expected to show up for segments on both SportsCenter, the flagship program of ESPN, as well as NFL Live.
Ninkovich has been retired ever since going out on top with a Super Bowl LI victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He's made some appearances on the many ESPN networks, hosted a podcast for NBC Sports Boston, and was a pre-season reporter for Patriots games on WBZ last year. Fans will be able to see his talent for media on a nationwide level soon enough as Ninkovich is expected to make his first official ESPN appearance this Saturday during a live report from the Patriots’ training camp, which began on Thursday.
In a statement regarding the hiring, Ninkovich definitely seemed thrilled to get to work. He said, “I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to work for ESPN. I look forward to sharing my knowledge of the game and expressing my passion for football in the next chapter of my professional career.”
During his eight year career with the Patriots, Ninkovich was an elite talent and a coveted leader as he posted 469 tackles (55 of them for a loss), 88 quarterback hits, 14 fumble recoveries (including one for a touchdown), and five interceptions. One of the best and smartest defensive assets New England has ever experienced, he will undoubtedly make for a great analyst on a leading sports network.
Image via Flickr / WEBN-TV