By Rob Lep
Rob Gronkowski retired from the NFL today.
I have mixed emotions. There will never be another Gronk. I say that with confidence. He was a baller, both on and off the field.
On the field, no question we just witnessed the greatest tight end in the NFL history.
There are a lot of numbers to prove my argument. Here are a few of my favorites:
-Gronkowski's 79 touchdown receptions since he joined the Patriots as a second-round draft choice in 2010 led the NFL. He had 10 or more touchdown receptions in five seasons, which is the most by a tight end in NFL history.
-Gronkowski played in 115 regular-season games, totaling 521 receptions for 7,861 yards. He played in 16 playoff games, with 81 receptions for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns -- all records for a tight end.
-Gronkowski's 12 postseason touchdown receptions are tied for second in NFL history among all players, behind Jerry Rice (22). He has four career 100-yard receiving games in the playoffs, tying him with Vernon Davis and Keith Jackson for the most by a tight end.
Off the field, Gronk was every college frat boys dream. 6’6” 260 lbs, jacked, drinking beers and getting any girl he wants.
As he put it himself, “Yo soy fiesta”.
The injuries were certainly also a huge factor. Gronk was just bigger, faster and stronger than everyone else on the field. He was better than you. Linebackers couldn’t stay with him. Cornerbacks and safeties had no chance in single coverage.
Knees, back, legs, ankles, the list goes on. When he was ACTUALLY on the field, you couldn’t stop him. The problem: he wasn’t always on it. Gronk only played two full seasons, the first two of his NFL career in 2010-11.
Despite what some might describe as a party animal and goofball personality, other NFL players should marvel at what Gronkowski has accomplished in his NFL career.
He’s a three time Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro-Bowler. He spent his entire career with the New England Patriots, the gold standard of sports.
Nine years with Tom Brady, the greatest of all time and Bill Belichick, the greatest coach of all-time.
Many other players wouldn’t have taken Gronk’s path. Play with one organization your entire career. Stick with the New England system which can be challenging and complicated for players to exist in.
Remember all those reports from former players saying they didn’t have “fun” with the Patriots?
New England wins. That sounds pretty fun to me. If having to leave a little bit of your ego and pride at the front door and buying into a system isn’t fun, maybe you should just look in the mirror.
Any great organization or business in this world who thrives have employees who do exactly that: give something up to be a part of something great.
On the surface, we look at Gronk as the Jersey Shore. He’s got huge muscles. He parties and shotguns beers. He makes silly jokes and loves Barstool Sports.
A deeper dive shows he actually had a formula that other NFL players should strive for. Don’t be blinded by money. He could’ve gotten more money elsewhere.
He realized: winning championships will take care of everything. Winning Super Bowls with the Patriots equals money. Endorsements. Video game covers. TV and movies.
There’s nothing official right now but we all know this isn’t the end of Gronk. He could serve as an analyst on a Sunday NFL Pregame Show. Yes, I’m talking to you ESPN, CBS and FOX.
Color commentator is certainly an option too.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if he ended up on WWE or something else fun. I don’t know much of anything about wrestling but apparently WrestleMania, the Super Bowl of WWE, is in two weeks. Just saying.
Gronk will be just fine. He won Super Bowls. Played in the postseason every year. National spotlight. Became a superstar. We refer to him as Gronk. Not Robert Gronkowski. He’s bigtime.
A big pay day to play for potentially a mediocre organization that wouldn't sniff the postseason wasn't appealing to him. Bravo Gronk, everyone else take out your pen and paper.
He saved all $54 million of his career earnings. Every darn penny. Gronk will be just fine. Just chilling.
A farewell salute to the GOAT tight end. Have fun in retirement pal. You’re 29 and jacked with millions in the bank. Life is good.
Follow me on Twitter @RobLep1 and @STATSports1.