Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots’ five-time Pro Bowl tight end, announced on Sunday that he will retire from the National Football League less than two months short of his 30th birthday, ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter reported on Twitter Sunday afternoon. Gronkowski was considered one of the top tight ends in football when he was healthy, but he was frequently injured — going back to his college career at the University of Arizona.
Gronkowski announced his retirement on his Instagram account. See his full Instagram message posted below on this page. In the post, Gronkowski expresses his gratitude to “the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been (given).”
While Gronkowski’s injury history likely played a major role in his decision to retire, according to The Sports Daily, Gronkowski may also be looking toward a career in Hollywood, or as a professional wrestler.
The Patriots selected Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, with the 42nd overall pick, a position where Gronkowski remained available due to his injuries in college, according to Boston.com. Gronkowski was described “as something of an unknown (hulking) quantity” at the time of the 2010 draft.
The Amherst, New York, native had missed his entire junior year after back surgery resulting from a herniated disc in his back, according to SI.com.
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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.
Gronkowski phoned Patriots owner Robert Kraft shortly before he posted his retirement message on Instagram, informing Kraft of his decision, according to ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss, reporting in his Twitter account.
Gronkowski was part of three Super Bowl championships with the Patriots, in Super Bowls 49, 51, and earlier this year, in Super Bowl 53. In his nine seasons with the Patriots, according to Pro Football Reference, Gronkowski caught 79 touchdown passes and had 521 total receptions for 7,861 yards, all from the tight end position.
His five seasons with 10 or more touchdown receptions stands as the most ever by an NFL tight end. Gronkowski also played in 16 postseason games, with 81 receptions for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns, which are all records for an NFL tight end.
Tom E. Curran, a Boston sports journalist who has covered the Patriots for many years, said on Twitter that Gronkowski was “a surefire Hall of Fame tight end who really never wavered from being the same, simple, ‘doesn’t take much to make me happy’ person he was when he danced onstage with his brothers when he was drafted.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady replied to Gronkowski’s Instagram message, as quoted by ESPN, writing, “Love u man!! The [GOAT]!! Couldn’t be a better person or teammate!!!!”