Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced on Instagram Sunday night that he is retiring, sparking reactions from quarterback Tom Brady and other teammates.
“I will be retiring from the game of football today,’’ Gronkowski wrote in his Instagram post, adding that he felt it was time for him to “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 [the] rest of my life.’’
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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.
In the post, Gronkowski thanked “the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been [given] and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine.’’ He also referenced his publicly playful persona, writing: “I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010.’’
After Gronkowski made his announcement, Brady commented on the Instagram post, saying: “Love u man!! The [goat]!! Couldn’t be a better person or teammate!!!!’’
Former Red Sox star slugger David Ortiz also commented on the post, saying: “Best TE ever ..?? Bittersweet but i feel u bro. U know where to find me now. Congrats kid.’’
Brady went on to post his own tribute to Gronkowski on Instagram.
“What an honor and privilege to play with you these past nine years @gronk!” he wrote in the caption. “You accomplished so much and our team was almost unbeatable when you were on the field! Your fun-loving, inspiring, and positive energy made an impact on everybody you came into contact with!
“Not just that, but for as great as a player you are, you are a better teammate and person. The NFL was a better place with you in it! But I have no doubt you will be a success in anything you do!!! Love you pal!”
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What an honor and privledge to play with you these past nine years @gronk! You accomplished so much and our team was almost unbeatable when you were on the field! Your fun-loving, inspiring, and positive energy made an impact on everybody you came into contact with! Not just that, but for as great as a player you are, you are a better teammate and person. The NFL was a better place with you in it! But I have no doubt you will be a success in anything you do!!! Love you pal!
Patriots owner Robert Kraft released a statement later Sunday night, calling Gronkowski “the most dominant player at his position for nearly a decade’’ and “a Patriot for life.’’ He said he expects Gronkowski to be inducted into both the Patriots and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“In the nine years that I have known Rob Gronkowski, I have never known him to have a bad day,” the statement read. “He always has a youthful exuberance about him and is a joy to be around. As a player, he earned the respect of his coaches and teammates for his hard work, preparation, selfless attitude and the sheer dominance of his game.”
Coach Bill Belichick also celebrated Gronkowski for his effectiveness as both a player and a teammate: “His production spoke for itself, but his daily attitude, unmistakably positive energy wherever he went and toward whoever he touched will never be forgotten.’’ Belichick said it was a “pleasure” and “privilege” to coach Gronkowski.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, too, said it was a pleasure coaching Gronkowski, lauding his “positive attitude, incredible energy, and pure selflessness.”
“From the day I met him, he has been authentic, real and genuine,” McDaniels said in a statement issued Monday morning. “His love for life made every day more fun for the people around him. He was the ideal football player — tough, smart, competitive and always played his best under pressure.
“You always felt you had a chance to win with Rob on the field; he had that kind of impact on the game. He is one of the very few players who could control the game offensively in the pass and run game, and he thoroughly enjoyed being great in both areas.”
McDaniels closed his statement with an all-encompassing line: “There will never be another Gronk.”
Here’s a look at reactions from other players and people in Gronkowski’s life:
Safety Devin McCourty: “2010 Drafted together and now 9 years later 3x super bowl champs. Man I’ve appreciated you as a teammate and leader…fighting through everything. CONGRATS…Enjoy retirement.. #firstballot.”
Safety Duron Harmon: “Was an honor and privilege to play with you bro! You were a great player, great leader, great teammate and great person. Gonna miss playing with you on sundays but gonna miss you in the locker room even more. Enjoy retirement because you earned it my brotha! #GreatestTightend #FirstBallot.”
Safety Patrick Chung: “Where do I start @gronk….First thing congrats man, you deserve this. All the work and sacrifice I’ve seen you go through for 9 years. And doing it with a smile on your face! Thank you for making football fun for 9 years, with your good but bad dance moves! Thank you for making me the player I am. I’m not doing any of this shit without your help and work ethic. From rookie years to 9-10 years later. Betting $100 a day for winner that day in practice. Dreading practice but we keep pushing and worked through it Haha.
“I owe most my career to you and things I’m able to do on the field man. I’ve said it before, and it won’t change. Thank you. Enjoy retirement! Dance your ass off, keep smiling, being a clown, love life. I’ll join ya soon! Love you man! The greatest to ever do it! #bigchung from #littlegronk.”
Running back James White: “The trillest! Honored to have played with the best ever! [goat emoji].”
Running back Rex Burkhead: “The best to ever do it. Congrats on a great career brotha and enjoy the next chapter!”
Running back Sony Michel: “Toast up !! #RobGronkowski [goat emoji] #salute.”
— Sony Michel (@Flyguy2stackz) March 24, 2019
Running back Brandon Bolden: “@gronk what can I say big bro? Great career even better person. All around true pro. Love you big bro enjoy it cause WE all enjoyed watching you.”
Wide receiver Julian Edelman:
Wide receiver Chris Hogan:
Congrats @RobGronkowski on a incredible career brotha! BEAST MODE!!!— Chris Hogan (@ChrisHogan_15) March 25, 2019
Center Ted Karras:
Gonna miss you bro! pic.twitter.com/oydcUshZxX— Teddy Karras (@_teddy_k) March 25, 2019
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy:
My guy!!! @RobGronkowski Robbbbyyyyyy Ggggggg! Much love homie! I’m happy that you get to leave the game on your own terms. You are the Best TE ever to play the game! Can’t wait to see what you do next..... #RobbyGradio #GOAT— Kyle Van Noy (@KVN_03) March 24, 2019
Cornerback Keion Crossen:
Happy Retirement @RobGronkowski Appreciate you bro, now go dance all you want— Keion Crossen (@KeionCrossen) March 24, 2019
Tight end Stephen Anderson:
Congrats on a first ballot hall of fame career . Extremely privileged to be able to learn from the greatest to ever do it. Happy retirement pic.twitter.com/Jhquwz0FfE— Stephen Anderson (@S_Anderson89) March 24, 2019
Former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola: “To the most genuine man I’ve ever met. I love your hugs. Spikes. Buses. And I’ll never forget our trips home. Congrats on such an amazing career!! LFG bro. @gronk #potatoesacker.”
Former Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks: “@gronk Big guy thank you for giving me a ride to work on Sundays! It was special being able to play with you for a year, so much respect for you and everything that you have done for the game! Whatever you end up doing I’m sure you will be the best at it! #gronkexpress #hof.”
Former Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe: “I’m glad to be able to say I practiced and played with the one of the best players in history. It was a privilege to learn from you for 3 years. Going out a champion is only right for you! #RetireonTop.”
Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long: “Only dude I’ve had Waylon [son] snag a pic with. That’s how good he was. The best to do what he did, in my book. And he went out like a boss, on his terms. Congrats on a great career @gronk.”
Retired Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett:
Retired Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi:
There will never be another… pic.twitter.com/hoOU2GdVEc
— Tedy Bruschi (@TedyBruschi) March 25, 2019
Retired Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch:
Patriots play-by-play announcer Bob Socci:
To @RobGronkowski -- a once-in-a-lifetime player, larger-than-life personality and goodwill ambassador who's impacted countless young lives with your community service -- thanks and congrats! It's been a privilege the past 6 seasons trying to describe the often indescribable— Bob Socci (@BobSocci) March 24, 2019
Brother Glenn Gronkowski: “Congrats @gronk on an amazing career. From draft day, to retiring a champ, and of course all the craziness in between. Livin’ life to the fullest while still working your ass off and dominating on the field, we’re all gonna miss #gronkspikes on Sundays! Congrats again on being the best to ever to do it!”
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Congrats @gronk on an amazing career. From draft day, to retiring a champ, and of course all the craziness in between. Livin’ life to the fullest while still working your ass off and dominating on the field, we’re all gonna miss #gronkspikes on Sundays! Congrats again on being the best to ever to do it!
Brother Chris Gronkowski:
Congrats to my little, I mean younger, bro. Unreal career that entertained and impressed everyone that got to watch. pic.twitter.com/2TpPNsgaer— Chris Gronkowski (@Chrisgronkowski) March 24, 2019
Wide receiver Josh Gordon also posted on his Instagram story.