It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine.”
Gronkowski has flirted with retirement in the past, but it felt especially sincere this time around, and the recent increased chatter about retirement turned out to be accurate. The surefire future Hall of Fame member was reportedly nearly traded to the Lions last offseason, but threatened to retire in order to block it. We heard earlier this morning that the Patriots “aggressively courted” Jared Cook before he decided to sign with the Saints, which in hindsight might’ve foreshadowed this move.
Gronkowski entered the league as a second round pick out of Arizona back in 2010. He immediately became a star, and was a generational talent at the tight end position. But he was done in by injuries the past handful of seasons, with recurrent back injuries and other ailments. If this really is it, he’ll be retiring at the age of 29. Gronkowski is hanging up his cleats as a three-time Super Bowl champion and a four-time first-team All-Pro.
Gronk had some big moments this past season, but overall didn’t look like his old self. He appeared in 13 games, catching 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns. For his career, he’ll finish with 521 receptions, 7,861 yards, and 79 touchdowns. He wasn’t just a pass-catcher, as the Patriots’ running game always ran through his blocking. He’ll go down as one of, if not the, best tight ends of all time. Gronkowski has numerous off-field interests, and has signaled an interest in going into acting in the past.
The Patriots signed former Broncos tight end Matt LaCaosse earlier this month, but are almost certainly not done adding to the position. They’re armed with 12 draft picks, and should be a good bet to take a tight end early next month.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.