Let’s just say the New Orleans Saints haven’t always been the powerhouse that future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees helped turn them into. Once upon a time, prospects didn’t want to come to the Big Easy.
That said, after careers come to an end, you always hear a bit more honesty about their time with franchises and how they felt throughout their years in the league. For one former Saints defensive end, he was hoping to not land in the Big Easy.
In an interview with The Big Lead’s Ryan Phillips, former Saints fifth-round pick Rob Ninkovich said that he didn’t want to be drafted by the New Orleans.
"My mom asked me on draft day, ‘What is the one team that you do not want to go to?’ I said New Orleans. They had a 4-3 defense that didn’t fit my body type, didn’t fit my scheme, what I thought I would go play. And also with Katrina, you know, the city was devastated, I just didn’t think that was a great fit for me. But God works in mysterious ways and now I have three children, my wife’s from New Orleans, we met in New Orleans. So now I hold New Orleans near and dear to my heart. So it’s crazy how things work out because I did not want to go to New Orleans,” Ninkovich said according to The Big Lead’s Ryan Phillips."
As you can see, everything worked out for Ninkovich, who only played one season with the Saints. He was selected with the 135th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He saw snaps in just three games during his rookie season. He had four tackles and one pass deflection.
It wasn’t a successful stint for Ninkovich, who went to Miami after his first season.
He spent two seasons with the Dolphins before finding a long-term home in New England, missing out on the Saints Super Bowl run in 2009. However, the defensive end found his own postseason success with the Pats, winning two titles there.
Rob Ninkovich’s career lasted 11 seasons, and he ended up totaling 460 tackles. Add in 46 sacks, and one would consider Ninkovich’s career a success although he did fail to ever reach a Pro Bowl. His best season came in New England when he recorded 91 tackles and 8 sacks.
As for his distaste of NOLA, back in those mid-00s, the Saints weren’t thought of as an elite franchise. Brees completely re-wrote that card, and now with four straight NFC South titles, it feels like New Orleans is perennially a top-ten team.
Let’s hope they continue that trend even after Brees is gone.