Rob Gronkowski is no stranger to retirement rumors. On Wednesday, he addressed them the same way he did for much of last offseason — by giving an ambivalent answer.
“Yes, no, maybe so,” the Patriots tight end told a reporter who asked if he’ll retire after Super Bowl LIII.
Gronkowski maintained that the only thing he’s focused on is the matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. He said he’ll sit down after the season, like he always does, to consider his future.
If Sunday does mark the 29-year-old’s last time in a Patriots’ uniform, the toll football takes on his body will certainly play a major role in that decision.
“The season’s a grind,” Gronkowski said. “It’s up and down. I’m not going to lie and sit here and say every week is the best. Not at all. You go up, you go down. You can take some serious hits. To tell you the truth, just try and imagine getting hit all the time and trying to be where you want to be every day in life.
“It’s tough, it’s difficult. To take hits to the thigh, take hits to your head. Abusing your body isn’t what your brain wants. When your body is abused, it can bring down your mood. You’ve got to be able to deal with that, too, throughout the season. You’ve got to be able to deal with that in the games.”
Gronkowski was limited in practice for stretches of the regular season and missed three games. He noted that players are expected to perform every single day, even if they feel like, “Yo, I just took 50 hits to my head.”
“They want practice full speed, next week they want the game to be full speed, but they don’t understand sometimes what players are going through with their bodies, with their minds,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been saying you see a shift in players in games where people are down the whole game, and then you see, all of a sudden, the next week it’s like, ‘How did this team just go from one switch to the other?’”
The five-time All-Pro noticed another shift this season. Gronkowski acknowledged the Patriots paid closer attention to the bulletin-board rumors of their demise than they had in years prior.
“I would say that this year we’ve taken it in more than any year usually,” he said. “We’ve heard it more than normal. But we didn’t let it affect us in a bad way. We took it in and then put it back out there with good energy.”