According to a new report recently released, a bulging disk in Rob Gronkowski’s back suffered last season affected his decision to ultimately retire.
When Rob Gronkowski stunned the football world last March by announcing his retirement in a heartfelt Instagram post, he left behind a legacy as one of the greatest players to ever don a New England Patriots uniform. A likely candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Gronkowski also has a legitimate argument to be considered the greatest tight end of all time.
So why exactly did the lovable “meathead” walk away from football after just nine short seasons?
Gronkowski spent the vast majority of his retirement post thanking his teammates, coaches, fans, family, and friends for their support over the years. He wrote glowingly of the memories he’d formed, and sounded excited for a future away from the gridiron game.
What he didn’t do was provide many reasons – if any reasons at all – for his landmark decision.
Some have speculated that Gronkowski had already accomplished all he set out to do after nine seasons in the league. A three-time Super Bowl champion, a five-time Pro Bowler… what more could any player not named “Tom Brady” really want to accomplish in an NFL career?
Others pointed to Gronkowski’s marketability and pursuits outside of football as the likeliest cause. He’d already long since ventured into other avenues, including multiple sponsorships, acting cameos, professional wrestling appearances… and, of course, the infamous “Gronk Party Ship” cruise festival extravaganzas.
This is all without even mentioning the idea of spending more time with friends and family, or with swimsuit model girlfriend Camille Kostek.
According to a new report though that cites sources close to Gronkowski, the primary reason behind his decision to retire may have had more to do with personal health than anything. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated claims that “one reason why Gronkowski scuffled through 2018 was a mid-season battle with a bulging disk in his back.”
Injuries are nothing new for Gronk, who has played through a slew of them over the course of the past decade. He’s notably battled forearm injuries, concussions, lower body issues, and a number of other ailments since joining the Patriots back in 2010.
Throughout it all, though, and even dating as far back as college, his back was the primary source for concern when it came to Gronkowski missing significant playing time… and it appears his back may have ultimately been the deciding vote in his choice this offseason.
Here’s the rest of what Breer had to say about the injury:
"“By the end of the year, (the bulging disk) was no longer a factor. But I’m told that knowing how close he might have been to a fourth back surgery, and the implications that could have down the line, was one factor in his decision to retire. So just logically, it’d be hard to imagine that concern would go away at 30 years old. Or, at the very least, would be one mental hurdle he’d have to clear if he were to come back again.”"
Obviously, most of the greater New England area is still holding out hope that they haven’t seen the last of No. 87 out there at Gillette Stadium. While no one wants to see Gronkowski get hurt again – or risk a lifetime of back pain over playing football for another five years – it’s still a bittersweet emotion to see such a tremendous talent walk away from the game at such a relatively young age.
If these reports and rumors are true, however, it sheds more light on the logic behind Gronk’s line of thinking. We may never know the full extent of what caused him to decide to retire, but this at least paints a clearer picture of what was going on behind the scenes last season and in the time immediately following the Super Bowl.