Gronk

USA Today

Gronk's Retirement

You are the fiesta. And let the fiesta begin.

March 25, 2019 - 11:05 am
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It happened. The moment that everyone knew was coming became official yesterday. Rob Gronkowski is retiring. In a statement posted on Instagram, he wrote in part:

"It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine.”

And with that, the most dominant tight end ever is hanging it up. And what a bizarre, incredible marriage that was. The stuffy, button-up New England Patriots and Rob Gronkowski. The Patriot Way meets the Yo-So-Fiesta Way and it worked, it worked so damn well.

And now he’s retiring at 29. Good for him. And not at all surprising. I’m never going to tell a guy when to retire or when not to retire, but if you’ve seen the punishment that he’s taken over the years, this is the right move. He’s walking away while he can still walk.  And on top. And on his own terms. How many pro athletes can say that? And how many pro athletes have taken the pounding this dude has?

Being that big, that fast, that physical, took its toll. There was the back surgery before he even arrived in the league. Followed by a torn ACL, broken arm, bad hamstring, and two more back surgeries thrown in.

And he’s walking away as the most incredible force the position has ever seen. I know there are other tight ends with more longevity and better numbers, but nobody dominated games the way Gronk did. Maybe not just at tight end, but at any position.

Oh, and it’s not like his numbers are bad. They’re awesome. Three Super Bowl rings. First tight end in history with three straight seasons of double-digit touchdowns. Most yards per game by a tight end in NFL history. Most reception, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns by a tight end in playoff history. And most receiving touchdowns by anyone since he entered the league.

And the nickname. Gronk. The absolutely perfect nickname that summed him up in so many different ways. A big lug, a big clown, who will absolutely clown you.

Running around with those giant Hamburger Helper gloves and that huge brace. Running over guys, through guys, and past guys. Has there ever been a bigger physical mismatch on the field ever? Linebackers couldn’t run with him, safeties couldn’t tackle him, and cornerbacks were like flies on a windshield.

Oh, and he was an absolute monster as blocker. He wasn’t an overgrown receiver who didn’t like to block. He was a road grater who also loved to get loose in secondary’s. He wasn’t an extra receiver or an extra blocker, he was an extra receiver AND an extra blocker.

Just ask the Rams, who paid the price on most significant drive of the Super Bowl. The only reason the Patriots were able to score the one touchdown they scored was because they ran Hoss Y-Juke three straight times with three completely different successful results.

And the only reason why that play worked three straight times was because of Gronk – because you never knew if he was going to be running a route or pancaking a defensive player. So you had to prepare for both.

And if you want to come in here and say that the Patriots are done now that Gronk’s done, go right ahead. And no don’t get twisted. I’m not saying it’s NOT a big loss. And while he no longer beats the double teams like he used to, he still drew a helluva lot of attention, allowing Tom Brady to work in other places. I could even argue that they don’t win this last ring without him. He made the biggest play of the game: balled up when it mattered most. And was still pancaking fools. Of course, this is a big loss. But it doesn’t mean the Pats are dead. Just because Gronk is done doesn’t mean the Pats are done. Keep falling for that trick every time it comes around. I’ve said it before and apparently I have to keep saying it, the Patriots are done when Tom Brady and Bill Belichick say they are done.

There’s no way to replace Gronk, but if any team can do it, it’s the Patriots. And, unfortunately, they’ve had plenty of practice. He hasn’t played a full season since his second year in the league.

And yes, Tom Brady was a completely different quarterback with Gronk on the field. One GOAT feeds off another. And there isn’t another piece out there that they can just plug into the Gronk spot.

So ultimately, they might decide to just go in a different direction and change up their whole offense now that they know he won’t be coming back.

He’s still young. There’s the possibility, however remote, that he’s going to take a year off and then come back. But if this is it, then here was his final postgame conversation with Bill Belichick.

You know what’s more amazing than all Gronk’s records? The fact that he got a high-five from Bill Belichick and a commitment that Belichick was going to “step out.”

And that’s the other side of Gronk. Because the highlights weren’t just of him trucking fools, they were also of him acting the fool. And being in on the act.

Roll it.

This isn’t the end of the Patriots, but it’s the end of an incredible Patriot. And a true original. You are the fiesta. And let the fiesta begin.