Foxborough, MA– Nine years ago, the New England Patriots drafted Rob Gronkowski into the tight end position, deeming him as the heir apparent to the tight end legacy of Benjamin Watson, who was probably the best tight end the Patriots ever had. Gronk blew that door wide open over the course of his nine seasons in the NFL, becoming not only the greatest tight end in the Patriots' history, but the greatest tight end the league had ever seen.
Yesterday, though, Gronk brought his era as a dominant player to an end when he announced his retirement via Instagram, where he wrote, "Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a huge cheers to the uncertainty of what's next." At 29 years old, Gronk is retiring fairly early, but he was such a behemoth on the field and so prone to injuries that it makes sense for him to call it a career because it can be hard to tell how much of a beating one's body can take.
In the wake of his announcement, an outpouring of support from past teammates, NFL legends, and fans alike could be seen on social media, including statements from Patriots like Tom Brady and Julian Edelman and former teammates like Danny Amendola and LeGarrette Blount.
During his peak, Gronk was revolutionary. He was like a human cheat code and a not-so-secret weapon as he absolutely dominated every defensive player who dared to cover him. Gronk exceeded ten touchdowns in five different seasons and caught 79 of them in total, in addition to 521 total catches for 7,861 yards. In the post-season, Gronk caught 81 passes for 1,163 yards and 12 total touchdowns. All of these are records for a tight end in NFL history. (Not to mention, Gronk won three Super Bowl titles during his tenure with the Patriots.)
Not only was Gronk an absolute force of nature on the field, but he was also one of the most fun NFL players to watch off the field because of his many antics and proclivity for fun. He was a transcendent NFL star who changed the game forever. As one of the best Patriots ever, arguably the best tight end ever, an incredibly fun superstar, and an all-time teammate, Gronk will go down in sports history, and he will certainly be enshrined in Canton, Ohio. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for nine incredible seasons, Rob Gronkowski!