They say hindsight is always 20-20.
But what about foresight?
Go back to 2007.
Gas was about to hit $3 a gallon, Twitter hadn’t struck it big yet, James Harden was beard-less and the Miami Dolphins were 1-15.
Putting the Dolphins under a microscope, you would see that the team had a defensive end on its practice squad by the name of Rob Ninkovich.
Miami had claimed him off waivers in September 2007 and Ninkovich appeared in just four games for the team that year. The following year, as Miami switched from a 4-3 defensive scheme to a 3-4, Ninkovich converted to linebacker; had a productive preseason; but was released in August 2008.
The Dolphins did re-sign Ninkovich back their practice squad the days after releasing him, only to release him again on November 20 and re-sign him back to the practice squad the very next day.
New Orleans, the team that originally drafted Ninkovich back in 2006, signed the 6-foot-2, 260-pound defender off the Fins’ practice squad that December. The Saints ended up releasing during the 2009 offseason.
The 2009 season comes and New England picks Ninkovich up off the proverbial trash heap. He ends up making the Patriots’ 53-man roster, impresses enough folks and earns a contract extension.
Where it really begins to itch for Dolphins fans is during the 2010 season; Ninkovich not only became a start for the Pats, but he recorded his first career interception in a Monday night game against Miami and later in the game added another interception and a sack.
Ninkovich ended up finishing the 2010 season a career-high 62 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions.
Since putting on a Patriots uniform, Ninkovich has racked up 46 sacks – including three consecutive seasons of posting eight sacks – and helped New England win the 2014 Super Bowl by recording a sack and three tackles.
Even though Ninkovich missed the first four games of this season because he had to serve a four-game league-mandated suspension for violating the substance abuse policy, he still racked up four sacks and will start for New England this Sunday when it faces Atlanta in Super Bowl LI.
Former Miami Dolphins linebacker and 560 WQAM resident storyteller Channing Crowder, who was a starting linebacker for the Fins during Ninkovich’s two-year stint with the franchise, recalls interacting with him.
“He always asked a bunch of questions…we used to call him ‘SAT’ – he asked so many questions,” Crowder said. “When he was in Miami, I’d say it was like he didn’t really understand [the finer points of] football. Whatever the coaches were trying to tell us, he’d have a bunch of questions about it.”
“He honestly went to the best place by going to New England. Him being a guy that always wanted to learn and ask a bunch of questions and was basically going to do whatever the coaches told him to do, he went to the perfect place because [Bill] Belichick loves guys like that.”
“That’s why he’s been as successful as he has,” Crowder said.
As funny as that is, we still have to add another player who left Miami and found greatness somewhere else.