New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement Sunday on Instagram, ending one of the league’s most dominant and colorful careers after nine seasons.
“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,” he wrote.
Gronkowski, who turns 30 in May, thanked the Patriots organization, teammates and fans in the lengthy post.
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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.
Quarterback Tom Brady, who has thrown twice as many touchdowns to Gronkowski (78) as any other player (Randy Moss, 39) in his career, commented on the tight end’s Instagram post, writing, “Love u man!! The [GOAT]!! Couldn’t be a better person or teammate!!!!”
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What an honor and privledge 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!
Gronkowski — who has battled serious injuries to his back and knee and missed 29 games in his career — openly pondered retirement last offseason, but he returned for another campaign.
Before Super Bowl LIII this year, he said he would make a decision about his future a few weeks after the big game. He also discussed the physical wear and tear he endures throughout the season, as a 6-foot-6, 268-pounder who takes big hits as a receiver, regularly blocks defensive linemen and often plays through injury.
“I’m not going to lie and sit here and say every week is the best,” Gronkowski said. “Not at all. You go up. You go down. You can take some serious hits. Try to imagine getting hit all the time and trying to be where you want to be every day in life. It’s tough. It’s difficult.”
Over the last several years, Gronkowski has steadily added experience in other fields, making a WWE appearance in 2017 and taking roles in various movies. Many reports have said the tight end has his eyes on an acting career in Hollywood, while some expect him to go into wrestling.
A three-time Super Bowl champion, four-time First Team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection, Gronkowski caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns in 115 games from 2010-18. Despite playing just nine seasons, he ranks ninth in NFL history among tight ends in receiving yards and tied for third in receiving TDs.
No player at any position caught more touchdowns than Gronkowski during his NFL tenure, and only LeSean McCoy equaled his 80 total touchdowns.
Gronkowski added 81 catches for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 postseason contests, all top marks among tight ends all-time. Only Jerry Rice (22) has caught more scores in playoff history.
–Field Level Media