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Rob Gronkowski on retirement: “How can I stop playing before Brady?”

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The Patriots All Pro tight end has laid out a goal for his career.

New England Patriots All Pro TE Rob Gronkowski is on the injured reserve after undergoing his third career back surgery, but he’s in good spirits and rearing to get back to football. Gronkowski spoke during a promotional event at the Super Bowl.

Gronkowski was asked about what his plans are after football, but he deferred from giving a concrete response and used Patriots QB Tom Brady as a timeline, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

“I don't really think about it. Every single day I'm with Brady and he's talking about how he's going to play six more years,” Gronkowski told the crowd. “So like, in my mind, how can I stop playing before Brady? I came into the league like 50 years after him. I plan on playing as long as I possibly can. I love the game of football. It's my first love. I put football first, before everything.”

Since Brady entered the league “like 50 years” before Gronkowski, it’s a point of pride for the tight end to outlast his quarterback. At least this implies that the hope is for Gronkowski and Brady to finish out their careers with a similar time frame.

Gronkowski turns 28 before next season and is supposedly entering his prime. If he is able to play at 100% next season, he will be back to performing like the best tight end in football and should be able to maintain that level of play for a couple more seasons.

Brady plans on playing until he’s 45 years old, which is the year 2022; Gronk will be 33 years old. Both Brady and Gronkowski are free agents after the 2019 season, so both will need new contracts to reach their goals. If both can still play at their expected high levels, then the Patriots would be wise to keep them both around.