New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich will serve a four-game suspension to open the NFL season, per Mike Reiss and Field Yates of ESPN.
The two-time Patriots team captain tested positive for a banned substance, per the report.
Ninkovich said he is “hearbroken” about this suspension.
“Few things are more important to me than my name and reputation. This might call that into question for some, which has me heartbroken,” Ninkovich said. “I don’t want to cut any corners. I want to do things the right way, with high integrity, and that’s what I have always wanted to stand for.”
The linebacker also said his positive test stemmed from a product bought in a store.
“Any supplement I’ve ever used was bought at a store. I was unaware something I bought had a substance in it that would give me a positive test because it wasn’t listed [as an ingredient],” he told ESPN.
It’s worth noting the Patriots might have already known this was in the works.
The team recently traded with the Cleveland Browns for linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who made a splash in his first game Thursday night.
It’s also worth noting Ninkovich would not have been available to the Patriots for the first four games due to injury. However, that doesn’t mean the suspension is without teeth, as noted by Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.
Because of his injury, #Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich wouldn’t be playing the 1st 4 games anyway. But monetarily and reputation-wise, it hurts
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 2, 2016
With Tom Brady already out the first four games, the Patriots now are without two top leaders to open the season.
Since 2010, Rob Ninkovich (41, 388) is 1 of 3 players with 40+ sacks & 350+ tackles.
J.J. Watt (74.5, 371) & Calais Campbell (41.5, 372)
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) September 2, 2016