New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from professional football on Sunday, putting an end to a nine-year career during which he was one of the most dominant offensive weapons in the NFL.
Over his nine years, all spent with the Patriots, Gronkowski made four All-Pro teams and won three Super Bowls.
Injuries Shorten Distinguished Career
Gronkowski told Patriots owner Robert Kraft of his decision on Sunday, then took to Instagram to inform fans of his retirement.
“Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been a part of this first class organization,” Gronkowski wrote. “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 it’s 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 [the] rest of my life.”
At just 29 years old, Gronkowski’s retirement may seem surprising for such an accomplished player. However, the tight end has been struggling with an assortment of injuries in recent years, which has limited his playing time over the past three seasons.
That’s why few are shocked by Gronk’s decision to end his career before his 30th birthday. Gronkowski has been hinting at a possible retirement since at least the end of the 2017 season, and speculation increased yet again after the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams in the 2019 Super Bowl on Feb. 3. Still, a retirement wasn’t exactly seen as likely, with oddsmakers offering +600 odds on Gronkowski hanging up his cleats in the aftermath of New England’s latest championship.
Gronkowski Praised by Coach, Owner
While the Patriots will certainly miss Gronkowski’s contributions, team officials offered nothing but praise for their tight end following his announcement.
“His production spoke for itself, but his daily attitude, unmistakably positive energy wherever he went and towards whoever he touched will never be forgotten,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a statement.
“In the nine years that I have known Rob Gronkowski, I have never known him to have a bad day,” Kraft said in a statement released Sunday. “As a player, he earned the respect of his coaches and teammates for his hard work, preparation, selfless attitude and the sheer dominance of his game…I look forward to honoring him in the near future as both a Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer.”
While Gronkowski’s career was relatively short, he’ll likely garner serious Hall of Fame consideration. After playing his college football at Arizona, Gronkowski scored 79 touchdowns and caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards over his nine years in the NFL. That’s enough to put him 28th on the all-time NFL list for career receiving touchdowns.
Without their star tight end, New England’s chances of winning another Super Bowl next season might dip slightly, but they are still considered a favorite. William Hill lists New England as a 7/1 pick to win the 2020 Super Bowl, ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs (8/1) and the Los Angeles Rams (8/1).