Gronk’s Retirement Ends a Decade of Dominance
In a move that many New England Patriots fans were expecting, but could never possibly be prepared for, Rob Gronkowski has officially announced his retirement from the NFL.
After 9 seasons of being the most dominant tight end in football, Gronk decided it was time to hang up the cleats. Honestly, you can’t blame him for the decision. The list of injuries he has sustained throughout his career is lengthy, and they have visibly taken a toll on the 6’6, 265-pound tight end in recent years. After nine seasons in the NFL, three of which ended with a Super Bowl ring, there was not much left that Gronk has not already accomplished. Seriously, just check out this list of achievements throughout his career.
- Most receptions by a tight end in Super Bowl history: 23
- Most receiving yards by a tight end in Super Bowl history: 297
- Only tight end to lead the league in receiving touchdowns (2011)
- Only tight end with 1,000+ career postseason receiving yards
- Most career postseason receiving yards by a tight end: 1,163
- Most touchdown receptions by a tight end, season: 17 (2011)
- Most total touchdowns by a tight end, season: 18 (2011)
- Most single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end (1,327): 2011–18
- Most career postseason receiving touchdowns by a tight end: 12
- Most seasons with 10+ touchdowns by a tight end: 5 (2010–12, 2014–15)
- Most career average receiving yards per game average among tight ends: 68.3
- Most career touchdowns per game average among tight ends: 0.69
- Most yards per target average among tight ends: 9.9 (since 1992)
- Most offensive touchdowns in first two seasons: 28 (tied with Randy Moss)
- Only tight end to have 3 seasons with 10+ touchdowns and 1,000+ receiving yards (2011, 2014–15)
- Consecutive seasons with 10+ touchdowns by a tight end: 3 (2010–12)
- Most seasons of 1,000+ yards receiving by a tight end: 4 (tied with Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten)
- Youngest player with 3 touchdown receptions in a game: 21 years, 184 days (2010, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Youngest player with 3 touchdown receptions in a game, playoffs: 22 years, 275 days (2011 playoffs, vs. Denver Broncos)
Patriots franchise records
- Most games with 100+ receiving yards by a tight end: 26
- Highest receiving yards per game average for a tight end (season): 82.9 (2011)
- Youngest Patriot with 3 touchdown receptions in a game: 21 years, 214 days (2010, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Youngest Patriot with 3 touchdown receptions in a playoff game: 22 years, 275 days (2011 playoffs, vs. Denver Broncos)
- Most career touchdown receptions: 79
- Most games with multiple touchdowns: 16
In case you couldn’t tell, this guy was pretty good. It’s only a matter of time before Gronk is enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Nine seasons flew by, but during that time Gronk was the most dominant player in the NFL and he had a lot of fun doing it. It’s easy to like a player who is so much better than everyone around him, but it was Gronk’s personality that made the fans in New England love the guy. He was basically just a big kid out on the field, getting paid to play a game that most kids grow up playing at recess.
It was very obvious that Gronk loved everything about playing in New England. I mean, who wouldn’t love playing for the greatest coach of all time, alongside the greatest quarterback of all time. Last offseason when the retirement rumours began, Gronk made it clear that New England was the only team he would play for. When a trade that would’ve sent #87 to the Lions came up, Gronk shut that down quick by saying that he would retire if the trade went through. I know you’re thinking “But if he’s so good, why would they trade him?” It’s crazy, but nobody is safe under Belichick.
There are already rumours that if the Patriots needed him back, that Gronk would come out of retirement mid-season. As excited as I was by this when I first heard it, I hope that this is the end for Gronk. It’s not that I don’t love the idea of him coming back healthy just in time for another Super Bowl run, because that sounds like a genius idea honestly. I just believe that there’s nothing left to win, nobody left to prove wrong, and being able to walk away from the game on your own terms is something that a lot of football players don’t get the chance to do.
While his time in New England has come to an end, it likely won’t ever be forgotten. Gronk will go down as one of the best players to ever wear a Patriots uniform, and I’m lucky that I got to witness this mammoth of a human dominate the NFL for most of the last decade. While there were countless big plays throughout his career, it seems fitting that one of the biggest came in his last game.
In case anyone else felt like crying right now, here’s a video showing just some of the many highlights from his career.
So long, Gronky. New England will miss you.