New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced that his NFL career had come to an end via his Instagram page on Sunday afternoon. Gronk rides off into the sunset as arguably the best to ever play the position. His next stop, after what will surely be many television, movie and professional wrestling opportunities is the NFL Hall of Fame where he should be a first-ballot selection.
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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. Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be apart of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.
Since his rookie season in 2010, no player at any position in the NFL has caught more touchdown passes. Gronkowski wraps up his NFL tenure with 521 receptions, 7,861 receiving yards and 79 touchdowns, surpassing his favorite number by 10 scores. The next closest NFL player to Gronk’s career touchdown total since 2010 is newly-minted Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown with 74.
Gronk’s now former head coach, never one for hyperbole, praised Gronkowski as he hangs up his spurs.
“Rob will leave the game among the best, most complete at his position to ever play,” Bill Belichick told ESPN.
Gronk always showed up on the game’s biggest stage. He caught six passes for 87 yards in February’s Super Bowl LIII, including huge plays on what would turn out to be New England’s game-winning drive. Gronkowski wraps up his career as a three-time Super Bowl champion, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a four-time All-Pro first teamer.
As you could expect, Gronk’s teammates, peers and fans were quick to react on social media, with none more poignant than this reaction from his quarterback.
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What an honor and privilege to play with you these past nine years @gronk! You accomplished so much and our team was almost unbeatable when you were on the field! Your fun-loving, inspiring, and positive energy made an impact on everybody you came into contact with! Not just that, but for as great as a player you are, you are a better teammate and person. The NFL was a better place with you in it! But I have no doubt you will be a success in anything you do!!! Love you pal!
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) March 24, 2019
A couple of retired Boston sports legends and champs.
Thanks, Gronk! pic.twitter.com/JfabUDVCBo
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) March 25, 2019
We’d throw a retirement party for Gronk but there isn’t enough beer in the world…
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) March 24, 2019
Congrats to my little, I mean younger, bro. Unreal career that entertained and impressed everyone that got to watch. pic.twitter.com/2TpPNsgaer
— Chris Gronkowski (@Chrisgronkowski) March 24, 2019
Since 2006 – tight ends with the most games of at least 1.95 yards per route run:
Antonio Gates: 65
Vernon Davis: 65
Jason Witten: 67
Rob Gronkowski: 6⃣9⃣
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 25, 2019
Only four players in NFL history caught more touchdown passes in their first nine seasons, including the playoffs — Jerry Rice (131), Randy Moss (110), Marvin Harrison (100) and Terrell Owens (99). Gronkowski ends his era with 91.
What’s next for Gronk? A reality show sounds like a no-brainer. Vince McMahon is likely blowing up his phone right now to come join the WWE and his agent is probably fielding plenty of action movie pitches.
We’ll still have plenty of Gronkowski in our lives, just not on the football field and the game will be poorer for it.
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