New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski raised some eyebrows after his team’s Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 4 by saying “I’m definitely going to look at my future, for sure,” an apparent indication that he was mulling retirement after eight NFL seasons. But considering an injury history that stretches back to his time at Arizona, Gronkowski’s comments probably shouldn’t be all that surprising.
— He missed his entire junior season in college after having surgery to repair a bulging disk in his back.
— In January 2012, he sprained his ankle in the AFC championship game against the Ravens, and had only two catches in New England’s second Super Bowl loss to the Giants.
— The next season — his third in the NFL — he broke his forearm while blocking on an extra point and missed five games. He then broke the same forearm in a postseason win over the Texans and missed New England’s next game, a loss to the Ravens.
— He played in only seven games in 2013, missing the first six after offseason surgery to repair a fractured vertebra and then the final three after tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee and suffering a concussion on one play in a Dec. 8 game against the Browns.
— In 2015, he missed one game after taking a hit to the knee against the Broncos.
— Gronkowski missed half the season in 2016, sitting out games because of a hamstring injury, a chest injury and a lower back injury.
— This past season, he suffered a concussion in the AFC championship game and likely was not 100 percent for the Super Bowl.
That’s an extensive list of pain, and ESPN’s Jeff Darlington suggested last week that the topic was on Gronkowski’s mind even before the Super Bowl.
“Weeks before [the AFC championship game], Gronkowski was telling people around him the toll on his body was making him lean toward the potential that this was his last season,” Darlington said. “This is a very serious thing for Gronkowski at this point. He will certainly continue to contemplate retirement.
“It’s not a done deal by any means, but this is not something that is simply an emotional approach to the loss of the Super Bowl, nor is it an emotional response to the concussion,” he continued. “This is something Gronkowski has been considering long before both of those instances in the 2017 season.”
After the Super Bowl, Gronkowski said he would take a few weeks to decide his future, which is probably all the time the Patriots are going to give him. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio recently pointed out that New England will need to know his status before the league’s free agency period gets going March 12. Gronkowski apparently doesn’t need the money: In 2015, he said he hasn’t touched one dime of his signing bonus or NFL salary, instead living off the money he’s earned from endorsement and marketing deals.
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