Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians told the media that Tom Brady was responsible for getting Rob Gronkowski back in the NFL and on the Buccaneers.
Tom Brady: the greatest quarterback of all time … and also one of the greatest recruiters out there.
It was truly shocking to see Brady leave the New England Patriots after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl titles with the only franchise he’s ever known.
It was even more shocking when exactly a month and a day later, Rob Gronkowski — then thought to be retired from the NFL forever — was traded by New England to Tampa Bay along with a seventh-round pick for a fourth-round pick and a cheap replica of Gronk’s WWE championship belt.
(In case you’re wondering, Bill Belichick’s dog Nike is using the belt as a collar now.)
In all seriousness, it’s been a stunning turn of events for the Pats this past year. It’s not every day that a team watches one of its greatest players ever retire, then watches its greatest player ever switch to another team, and finally watches that first great player un-retire to join the second player on the new team … and all in a matter of 13 months.
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, arguably the biggest individual beneficiary of all these developments, seems just as incredulous as the rest of us — although he’s also probably deliriously happy, unlike us Patriots fans who are still in mourning.
On Thursday, Arians was interviewed on ESPN’s NFL Live. Asked about Gronkowski specifically, he gave all the credit in the world to TB12 for orchestrating the legendary tight end’s unretirement and trade to Tampa.
Here’s what he said, per ESPN’s Jenna Laine:
"“It was really Tom. Tom brought it up to me, and I didn’t even think it was a possibility that [Gronkowski] wanted to come back. And [Brady] was adamant about, yeah, he really wants to play; he’d love to play with us. So [general manager] Jason Licht got the ball rolling with the Patriots, the conversation was there, and he’s working out, he’s in great shape and he’s raring to go. So we’re really looking forward to getting on the practice field.”"
According to Laine, the Brady/Gronkowski reunion down in Florida really started to take shape sometime in January or February when Gronk met up with Brady “for a workout, two months prior to joining the Bucs.” Somewhere in the midst of their training session, Gronkowski reportedly “indicated his level of interest in returning and rejoining Brady.”
For those hoping to keep tabs on former Patriots Brady and Gronkowski in addition to New England’s own scheduled football games, you’re in luck this season. The Buccaneers and Patriots reportedly will not play at the same time until Week 15.