At 33, the winner of four Super Bowl announces retirement after two super seasons in Tampa
Rob Gronkowski retires. The best tight end in NFL history says it’s enough a second time. He had already done so in 2019, to heal the scars of many sports battles after the glory years at the New England Patriots. This time he is leaving after two superb seasons played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It should be the final one, he’s 33 years old. But with him never say never. Histrionic, unpredictable, and very close friends with Tom Brady, the only quarterback of his career. Who knows if he doesn’t get a (further) call during the season, and that Gronk doesn’t feel like facing at least a shortened season, as his agent did not exclude, compared to the total 8 months of football, too physically and mentally demanding to him now.
In Tampa they were confident. They had given him their time, their space. Convinced that he just wanted to skip the summer training sessions, exhausting for those who had already played 11 NFL seasons accumulating serious injuries, thanks to his ferocious style of play, from Incredible Hulk, always in search of contact, sweeping away the defenders with his power. Brady had retired for a month and then retraced his steps. In Florida they figured it was enough to see Gronk on gridiron again for one final season. In doubt, the Bucs in the 2022 Draft have selected two tight ends, Cade Otton, from Washington, on the fourth lap, and Ko Kieft, on the sixth, from Minnesota. But they were moves devoted more to the medium / long term than to the immediate one. The champion franchise with Brady and Gronk two seasons ago had left salary room to re-sign their phenomenon, seasoned yet not yet worn in terms of performance. Instead, the statement from Gronk arrived. “I’m retiring again, leaving football with my head held high knowing that I’ve given everything I have, for better or for worse, every time I step on the pitch. The friendship and relationships developed will last forever and I thank teammates and coaches for giving everything just like me “.
They are sensational. 4 times Super Bowl winner, first of all. Three with the Pats, one with the Bucs. He was a team player, also willing to do the hard work as a blocker to win, sacrificing his numbers. However, they remain sumptuous, perhaps incomparable. 621 passes received, for 9286 yards and 92 career touchdowns in regular season. But it’s the playoff figures that make his eyes roll: 98 taken for 1398 yards, 15 touchdowns. The 15 goals in the post season are second only to Jerry Rice in the history of the game. And Rice was the greatest receiver ever, not a tight end. Gronkowski folded at his best: in 2021 802 yards of tricks in just 12 games, and 6 touchdowns. His best season, for statistical efficiency, since 2007. It wasn’t enough to convince him to continue. A character who loves parties, knows how to enjoy life, but who has been able to be an exemplary professional during the football seasons, did not feel like concentrating on the oval ball again at 360 degrees. Without him, the Bucs’ chances of winning Super Bowl 2023 drop instantly, but the Bucs remain legitimate candidates for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Never say never
Tampa General Manager Jason Licht thanked Gronk: “It’s hard to see who is still achieving this level of success leave, but on my part there is only gratitude and respect for one of the greatest tight ends ever, which ( with his arrival) has helped us to establish a winning franchise culture ”. But it might not be over there. Gronk’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told Espn: “I think he could come back later in the season, maybe if he calls him Brady …”. And then, who knows …
June 22, 2022 (change June 22, 2022 | 15:11)
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