After Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday, the tributes rolled in.
Fans, Patriots teammates, and competitors took to social media to congratulate Gronk on his exceptional nine-year NFL career.
Here’s how athletes past and present from the rest of the NFL reacted to Gronkowksi’s retirement announcement:
Nate Burleson, NFL wide receiver 2003-2013
Burleson currently co-hosts Good Morning Football on NFL Network. On Monday, Burleson said he was glad to see Gronkowski retire on his own terms after a career of maneuvering within “the Patriot way” to do things “the Gronk way.”
“He reminded us every time he was on the field that we’re just playing a kids game,” Burleson said. “It’s the same game we were playing at recess. The same game we were skinning our knees for in the parking lot, in the driveway, outside, trying to be the best football players we can be.”
— GMFB (@gmfb) March 25, 2019
Burleson also said he would “rather see him walk away from the game than limp away from the game.”
“The last few years, the first thing I said after the season is, ‘Gronk, re-evaluate what’s important,” Burleson said. “Because I don’t care about the trophies, I don’t care about the stats, I don’t care about the records, I’d rather see him happy 15 years from now, running with his family, than limping through the house because he’s so banged up.”
JJ Watt, Texans defensive end
Congrats on an incredible career @RobGronkowski. One of the best to ever do it. Best wishes on whatever comes next!
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 24, 2019
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns tight end
— Chief David Njoku (@David_Njoku80) March 24, 2019
Kyle Long, Bears offensive tackle
Gronk one of the most dominant players to put on a helmet. Amazing career.
— Kyle Long (@Ky1eLong) March 24, 2019
Chris Long, Eagles defensive end (and former Patriot)
The other Long publicly wondered who the youngest football player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is. Gale Sayers was inducted in 1977 at age 34.
Gronkowski turns 30 on May 14. According to the Hall, players become eligible for selection after they have been out of the NFL for five consecutive seasons. Given those rules, Gronkowski will not be eligible for induction until 2024, when he turns 35.
Who is the youngest dude ever to get inducted in the HOF because Gronk shouldn’t wait long.
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 25, 2019
Le’Veon Bell, Jets running back
thank youu for the amazing moments @RobGronkowski 🐐💯
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) March 24, 2019
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers tight end
Olsen admitted he would watch Gronkowski’s game film each week during his NFL career and attempt to emulate Gronk’s playing style.
For the past 9 years, after each week, one of the first guys reception targets I would go watch was @RobGronkowski. Some stuff I would steal, other stuff only he could do. Incredible career and enjoy what’s next. See you in canton
— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen88) March 24, 2019
Michael Strahan, Giants defensive end 1993-2007
Strahan, who became a television personality after his 15-year NFL career, encouraged Gronkowski to enjoy life after football.
— Michael Strahan (@michaelstrahan) March 24, 2019
Pat McAfee, Colts punter 2009-2016
McAfee emphasized Gronkowski’s dynamic career on the field and hinted at the tight end’s unique spending habits. In 2015, Gronkowski wrote in his book “It’s Good to Be Gronk” that he only spends money made from endorsements and saves money made from the NFL.
Huge congrats to @RobGronkowski.
Absolutely legendary career on the field. He changed the game, did it his way, and took care of his family the entire time.
Excited to see what big cuzzie does next. pic.twitter.com/auf3xIdm3H
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) March 24, 2019
Jamal Adams, Jets safety
— Jamal Adams (@TheAdamsEra) March 25, 2019
Bruce Irvin, Panther defensive end
Irvin referenced Super Bowl XLIX, in which the Patriots defeated Irvin’s Seahawks 28-24. Patriots fans may remember Irvin and Gronkowski played notable parts in an on-field brawl as time expired and the Patriots won the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl.
@RobGronkowski congrats to one of the best to ever do it! So dope to see you go out on your time. Good luck on ur continued success brother! Ps u never gave me that fade back from the super bowl! 😂🤷🏾♂️
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) March 24, 2019
Golden Tate, Giants wide receiver
Tate’s mind was apparently blown by the notion of never seeing Gronkowski spike a football after a touchdown again.
— Golden Tate (@ShowtimeTate) March 24, 2019
Andrew Hawkins, NFL wide receiver 2011-2016
Everybody loves Gronk. Especially kids. Andrew Hawkins’s son apparently likes Gronk more than he likes his dad.
— Andrew Hawkins (@Hawk) March 25, 2019
Donald Driver, Packers wide receiver 1999-2012
Driver, the Packers’ all-time leader in total receiving yards, called Gronk “one of the best.”
Congratulations on a great career @RobGronkowski . One of the best
— Donald Driver (@Donald_Driver80) March 24, 2019