A weapon who might go down as the greatest tight end of all-time, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is saying ‘so long’ after nine memorable NFL seasons.
Sunday afternoon Gronkowski, owner of three Super Bowl rings, announced on his Instagram account that he is retiring, wrapping up a career that eventually will reward him with a lifelike bust of himself in Canton, Ohio at the Hall of Fame.
“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,” Gronkowski wrote on his Instagram. “I will be retiring from the game of football today.”
“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,” the 29-year-old added. “But now its [sic] 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.”
Gronk’s 79 receiving touchdowns ranks third all-time at the position, and he was also named to the Pro Bowl five times and first-team All-Pro on four occasions.
Over the course of his nine seasons, Gronkowski caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 scores, and he also scored a touchdown rushing.
Overall his 80 TD’s puts him at 62nd place all-time, and he also scored 12 playoff touchdowns, which is second only to Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice.
As one would expect after a stunning announcement, Tom Brady, his QB for all nine years of his NFL life, commented on Gronk’s Instagram post about the decision.
“Love you man!!” Brady stated. “The [goat emoji]!! Couldn’t be a better person or teammate!!!!”
Injuries likely had a lot to do with the decision to end his career at age 29, as Gronkowski played in just 31 games the last three seasons, and over the nine years of his career only played in 16 regular season games twice, his first two years of his career.
In the Super Bowl win over the Rams, Gronk caught six passes for 87 yards to go out on top as a champion.