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Patriots fans are not surprised by Rob Gronkowski’s decision to stay retired this season

Related: Patriots fans expect N’Keal Harry to carve out a key reserve role this season

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Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Ever since he officially stepped away from pro football in late March, comeback rumors have followed Rob Gronkowski wherever he went. Likewise, the interest and speculation sparked every time he announced a new upcoming announcement about his career. This was the case earlier this week as well, when he unveiled plans to host a Super Bowl party in Miami and thus effectively put to rest any rumors of a return this season.

In the video about the event, Gronkowski is seen debating with himself about whether to return to the game or not. He ultimately decides to stay retired, even though he jokes about a potential comeback next year at the end of the clip — a teaser that should not be taken too seriously, though. The 30-year-old, who won three Super Bowls in his nine seasons in the NFL, added more context during an interview with ESPN on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t say ‘never coming back,’” said the former New England Patriots tight end. “I’m 30 years old. I’m young. I still stay fit, still watch the game whenever I can, still enjoy it. I’m feeling good, but you know, one year off could possibly be the case. Or maybe two years off, man. It’s always an option in the back of my head. It’s not like I’m not staying in shape and not doing anything. I’m never stressed over it.”

Gronkowski, of course, still could theoretically return this season: he has until November 30 to make a decision in case he wants to re-join the Patriots for the home stretch of their season. The announcement of his Super Bowl party in combination with all the public statements he has made ever since retiring earlier this year, however, make it highly unlikely that he will file the necessary paperwork and be back on the gridiron in 2019.

This development does not come as a surprise for a majority of Patriots fans: SB Nation’s latest FanPulse survey also included a question whether or not they would see a Gronkowski return before the deadline, and only 12% of participants answered with yes. The remaining 88%,meanwhile, thought that a comeback would not be in the cards this season — a prediction that appears to have turned out accurate given his latest remarks.

Gronkowski, of course, still has a special place in the hearts of Patriots fans everywhere due to his upbeat persona and dominant play between 2010 and 2018 — something he experiences on a regular basis, as he pointed out: “Many of them say they want to see me back on the field, but I take it more deeply to the heart when they tell me they appreciate the nine years with the team and they just want to see me happy and healthy.”

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