Rob Gronkowski, star New England Patriots tight end, announced his retirement from the NFL on his Instagram page early Sunday evening.
In a somewhat shocking move, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his intentions to retire immediately from the NFL on an Instagram post early Sunday evening. He played nine seasons in the league – all with the team that drafted him.
Gronkowski had been flirting with retirement for the past two seasons, citing health reasons and his history of frequent injuries. The three-time Super Bowl champion, noted for his physical style of play and his ability to shed tackles and get into the end zone, retires as one of the greatest New England Patriots of all time.
In his Instagram post, Gronkowski thanked Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, all his past and current teammates, and “all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart (sic) of this 1st class organization.”
A graduate of the University of Arizona, Gronkowski was a second-round draft pick of the Patriots back in 2010. He immediately established himself as a game-wrecking red zone weapon, hauling in 79 touchdown receptions over his nine-year career. He also finished with 521 receptions for 7,861 yards.
Gronkowski, or “Gronk” as he has often been nicknamed, is a five-time Pro Bowler and a four-time First-Team All-Pro. He holds a number of New England franchise records, including the most career touchdown receptions of any Patriots player, and the most games with multiple touchdowns.
In NFL history, he also holds records for the most receptions and receiving yards by a tight end in Super Bowl history, the most offensive touchdowns in his first two seasons in the league (tied with fellow former Patriot Randy Moss), and the most touchdowns by a tight end in a season (he had 18 in 2011).
Gronkowski’s ability to mismatch with opposing defenses and consistently dominate in the red zone has many pundits suggesting he is one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history, if not the greatest of all time. His production will be near-impossible to replace, and the Patriots are undoubtedly a weaker team without him; his contributions will forever be remembered though in both New England and NFL history.