Former New England Patriots player Rob Ninkovich made his way around Maine Friday to speak to students and hospital patients.
Ninkovich made his first visit to see children at The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center.
He went from room to room at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, spending time with each child, showing off his Super Bowl rings and signing autographs.
"Giving back to the community, and particularly to kids, is something I have always enjoyed," Ninkovich said. "It’s important for children in the hospital to know that we, as athletes, are cheering for them, just like they cheered for me."
Later in the day, Ninkovich went to the Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport to speak at a contractor's event to raise funds for Maine students who are pursuing construction careers.
While there, NEWS CENTER Maine asked Ninkovich about Rob Gronkowski's recent retirement announcement.
"Depending on how you want to finish your career, some guys want to go until the wheels fall off. Some guys are told, 'Hey, your wheels fell off,' and other guys say, 'Hey I want to get out before they fall off and have some things I can do,'" said Ninkovich. "Skiing, running, or throwing a football for your son -- those are things you want to do when you're older, right?"
The event on Friday featured a silent auction, live auction, and live music.
It was put on to support a scholarship program for students attending a two- or four-year postsecondary Maine institution -- part of an effort to support the need for a new generation of skilled workers.
Ninkovich played 11 seasons in the NFL and finished his career with the Patriots in 2017.