Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement from football.
The big tight end took to Instagram on Sunday and made the following announcement:
"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 leaves the game as one of the finest tight ends' in the history of the league -- in nine seasons with the Patriots, the four-time All-Pro had 521 catches for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. A three-time Super Bowl champion, the 6-foot-6, 265-pounder was an overwhelming offensive option who routinely trucked defenders. But over the last few years, he struggled to stay healthy.
It’s unclear if this is move is simply a “temporary” retirement for Gronkowski — earlier this offseason, former Patriot Willie McGinest speculated that Gronkowski would retire and then rejoin the team later in the 2019 season. But the definitive statement from Gronkowski, coupled with the myriad of injuries he’s dealt with over the last few seasons, seems to indicate this could truly be it for the tight end.
Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady issued statements on Gronkowski’s retirement. (Kraft and Belichick’s were released through the team, while Brady posted his to Instagram.)
Kraft: “In the nine years that I have known Rob Gronkowski, I have never known him to have a bad day. He always has a youthful exuberance about him and is a joy to be around. 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. ‘Gronk’ quickly became a fan favorite and the most dominant player at his position for nearly a decade. I look forward to honoring him in the near future as both a Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer.
“As great of a player as he was, he is an even better person and ambassador of the game. Throughout his career, he made countless appearances in the community and there was no better remedy for hospital patients than a visit from Gronk.
“While Patriots fans are certainly going to miss seeing him play, he will be a Patriot for life and celebrated as a three-time Super Bowl Champion.”
Belichick: “It was a pleasure and a privilege to coach Rob Gronkowski the past nine years. From his rookie year until his final season and through countless times in between, Rob was a major reason why we won games and championships. His elite combination of size, skill, intelligence, toughness and ability to perform in pressure situations set him apart.
“Rob’s impact on our team and organization was felt in many ways. In the ultimate team sport, Rob was a great, great teammate. His production spoke for itself, but his daily attitude, unmistakably positive energy wherever he went and toward whoever he touched will never be forgotten.
“Rob will leave an indelible mark on the Patriots organization and the game as among the best, most complete players at his position to ever play.”
Brady: “What an honor and privilege 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!"