Patriots LB/DE Rob Ninkovich Suspended 4 Games For Taking Banned Substance

New England Patriots linebacker/defensive end Rob Ninkovich announced on Friday that he has been suspended four games after testing positive for a banned substance:

"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 told ESPN. "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.

"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]. One thing I have learned is that if a supplement is not NSF certified there are no regulations that ensure that what is on the label is 100 percent accurate. That is a hard lesson for me to learn at this stage in my career, but I take responsibility for it. It's a mistake I made and it hurts that I won't be there for my teammates."

The NFL has yet to announce the suspension, but Ninkovich said he wanted to share what happened publicly. 

He has played in 116 straight games for the Patriots, but that streak was already in danger thanks to a torn triceps he suffered in training camp at the beginning of the month. Veteran defensive end Chris Long is expected to start in his place.

Ninkovich racked up 52 tackles with 6.5 sacks last season.

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