It wasn’t easy to get Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots’ irrepressible goof of a tight end, to give a serious answer during the NFL’s Opening Night media extravaganza. He preferred to dance or consider a fraternity’s invitation.
But tucked in among the yuks was a serious matter. Might he be considering retirement at the age of 29?
He thought about it last year around this time, just after the Patriots’ Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles. He nixed an offseason trade, refusing to play anywhere else because “[Tom] Brady’s my quarterback. I wasn’t going anywhere without Brady.” It’s reasonable to ask him about it after a regular season that was both mentally and physically draining, one in which he caught 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games.
“After a long season, after the game, a few weeks down the road, you relax, you get some down time, enjoyment time and you just see where you want to go with it,” he said.
He chose not to answer when asked whether he wants to play. “That’s a tricky question. You’re just trying to get some answers over here, baby, but like I said I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t done that sit-down yet. I gotta do that sit-down. About two weeks after [the season], then I’ll know.”
As the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian noted earlier this month, Gronkowski can still overpower opponents and make dazzling catches and key blocks. It’s just he did it a little less frequently during the regular season this season. He has a way, though, of coming through in the postseason, when he is the NFL’s all-time leader in targets, receiving yards and touchdowns by a tight end. With his blocking getting most of the attention, he has caught seven passes for 104 yards in two playoff games in ’19.
Gronkowski will turn 30 in May and he has had a number of back and ankle surgeries, prompting the question about how much more battering he can take — or wants to take. “How many more years my body could take? In my opinion? That’s a good question. Many,” he said (via ESPN). “Many, many, many, many years. . . . There is no number. As much years as I want to go. Yeah, I feel good. But, I mean, if you just work hard enough through the work days, you can keep going.”
He interrupted a reporter who dared start a question, “as your career is winding down...”
“It is?” he said. “Ohhhhh.”
Mostly, his aim was to deflect and entertain, embodying half of Bill Belichick’s mantra. A college student invited him to his frat house, presumably for a party and not for a study session. “What are you guys doing tonight?” Gronk inquired. “I have curfew or else I would come.” Told that it was a “snow day party” with Atlanta expecting precipitation, the tight end brightened visibly. “In the day? I might be able to make that one.”
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