BOSTON (CBS) — Rob Gronkowski called it a career on Sunday night, announcing to the world that he was retiring from football.
He not only walks away one of the greatest Patriots players of all time, but one of the greatest football players of all time. What Gronk did on the field may never be matched again, a dominant force in New England’s passing attack who played the position like few others before him. He could just as easily change the game with his stellar blocking as he did with his acrobatic touchdown snags.
Now Gronk is planning for his career post-football, which may take him to the silver screen or the wresting ring. No matter what is Gronkowski’s next stop in life, his party bus will eventually pull into Canton, Ohio and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While discussing Gronk’s career and retirement on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final on Sunday night, ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss said that Gronkowski probably won’t have to wait too long for his enshrinement among the greats for the game.
“On the field, we’re talking about a player who is going to garner first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration. I talked to two voters [Sunday] who said it’s a slam dunk that he should get in on the first ballot,” Reiss told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton.
But beyond the 80 career touchdowns (92 if you include the postseason), four First Team All-Pro nods and three Super Bowl rings, Gronkowski was so much more for the Patriots and New England.
“You talk about off the field, he uplifted that locker room. When players saw him dancing on Opening Night of the Super Bowl, they all got energetic. He had that effect on the locker room and his teammates and that doesn’t even go into what he did in the community,” said Reiss. “He was a Ron Burton Community Service Award winner and did so much in the community. Really, an icon for the franchise on and off the field.”
Reiss said the Patriots were surprised by Sunday’s announcement, learning of Gronk’s decision only a short time before he announced his retirement via Instagram. Jason Witten recently spent a year away from the playing field and in the announcer’s booth, only to return to the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, so there is some speculation that Gronk could be back sometime in the near future. Former Patriots Willie McGinest said recently that he thought Gronk would retire but come back at some point during the season.
Could Gronk come back? Mike Reiss isn’t so sure, but he isn’t willing to rule it out either. Not with Gronk.
“You never say never. Part of the reason he’s making this decision, and probably the main reason, is his health. The last couple of years have been really hard on him,” explained Reiss. “I remember walking into the locker room when he was dealing with a back injury and his lower leg injury, and he wasn’t himself. Seeing him down, it was so apparent. And the game was harder for him, getting physically ready. You get away from the game, you sort of forget that feeling — you never know. I feel it’s unlikely, but I would never close that door.”
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