Nine-years after joining the New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski announced his immediate retirement from American football via his Instagram account last night.
Coming only a matter of weeks after he won his third Super Bowl with the Patriots, the 29-year-old tight-end stated that it had been "an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success."
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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. Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be apart of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.
Discussing the surprise retirement of Gronkowski on Monday's OTB AM, Mike Carlson assessed the standing of a player who had proved so crucial to the success of Bill Belichick's New England Patriots.
"The most interesting thing about him statistically is that he played in sixteen playoff games," Carlson commented when considering claims that Gronkowski may be the best tight-end the NFL has ever seen.
"Put them all together and you have 81 catches, 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns, which is pretty outstanding for any tight-end.
"On a peak level, he's easily the greatest tight-end of all time."
However, on raising the question of longevity, Carlson believes there is greater room for argument.
"Gronk played nine seasons of which six you could say were full seasons," noted Carlson while drawing comparisons with Tony Gonzalez and the 15-seasons out of 17 he spent playing at the top level.
Discussing his occasionally confusing off-field behaviour, the trust Patriots quarter-back Tom Brady had in him and what's to come next for Rob Gronkowski, you can watch back Mike's comments here.