Gronk out: Star tight end retiring for 2nd time

  • Covered the Buccaneers since 2009
  • Joined ESPN in 2016

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski is again calling it a career.

Gronkowski, 32, announced his retirement Tuesday via social media.

“I want to thank the whole entire first class Buccaneers organization for an amazing ride, trusting me to come back to play and help build a championship team. I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field,” Gronkowski said in his statement.

“The friendships and relationships I have made will last forever, and I appreciate every single one of my teammates and coaches for giving everything they had as well. From retirement, back to football and winning another championship and now back to chilling out, thank you to all.”

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However, Gronkowski’s agent told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he wouldn’t be surprised if his client could be coaxed out of retirement for a second time by Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

“It would not surprise me if Tom Brady calls him during the season to come back and Rob answers the call,” Drew Rosenhaus told Schefter. “This is just my opinion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season.”

Gronkowski had previously retired after the 2018 season with the New England Patriots due to injuries. The 2010 second-round draft pick out of Arizona largely credits Brady for setting the expectations for his career, and it was Brady who summoned him out of retirement in 2020 to play for the Bucs.

Though their personalities differed immensely — Gronkowski playful, fun-loving and never known to have a bad day by coaches or teammates; Brady, methodical and intense — they developed a close connection both on the field and off.

Gronkowski is the second key member of the Buccaneers’ offense to retire this year, following guard Ali Marpet, who retired in February. Brady himself announced his retirement in February only to unretire 40 days later.

Gronkowski’s breakthrough year came in 2011, when he set the NFL record for most receiving touchdowns by a tight end with 17. The year before, Gronk unveiled what became known as his signature move — the “Gronk Spike,” where he forcefully slammed the ball onto the field after every touchdown he scored.

Gronkowski won four Super Bowls — three with the Patriots (XLIX, LI, LIII) and one with the Buccaneers (LV) in 2020, a game in which he had two touchdowns, or “tuddies” as he liked to call them.

He was named a First-Team All-Pro in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017, and was picked to five Pro Bowls (2011, ’12, ’14, ’15 and ’17). He led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2011 and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2014. He was named to the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team and its 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

He leaves the game with the most career touchdowns by a tight end in postseason history (15) — and the second most at any position behind only receiver Jerry Rice (22). He also had the most 100-yard games by a tight end in NFL history and the most total TDs in a single season by a tight end in league history (18 in 2011).

Gronkowski’s 92 total career touchdowns are 12th most in NFL history and third most at the tight end position behind Antonio Gates (116) and Tony Gonzalez (111). He was the only tight end in NFL history to post three seasons of 1,000 yards receiving and 10-plus touchdowns (2011, ’14, ’15).

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