After nine NFL seasons with the New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski is hanging up his spikes. Gronkowski announced that decision on Instagram Sunday:
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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.
The Patriots drafted Gronkowski out of Arizona in the second round in 2010 (42nd overall), and he wound up being one of their best players for almost a decade. His career highlights include three Super Bowl championships (in 2014-15, 2016-17, and 2018-19), four first-team All-Pro nods (most recently in 2017), five Pro Bowl selections and the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award (in 2014). He battled significant injuries throughout his career, though, and was limited to 13 regular season games this season, plus there was plenty of talk that he might not return for another year, so this doesn’t come as a huge surprise.
Despite retiring at 29, Gronkowski leaves the NFL with numerous records, including the most receptions and receiving yards by a tight end in Super Bowl history (23 and 297), the single-season receiving yards record for a tight end (1,327 in 2011), and the most total touchdowns by a tight end in a season (18 in 2011). He also is the only tight end ever to lead the league in receiving touchdowns (17 in 2011) and the only tight end with over 1,000 career postseason receiving yards (1,163). We’ll see what’s next for him, but now he’ll have more time to explore wedding spikes, horse ownership, action movies, Gronk Cruises, and maybe even professional wrestling.