Last week, Rob Gronkowski appeared at a charity event at Gillette Stadium. During a short Q&A session with ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the topic of the comeback rumors surrounding him was also brought up. Gronkowski, who announced his decision to step away from the game in late March, was pretty straight forward: “Whatever I say, it doesn’t matter. It will always be crazy out there, but you can put them to rest.”
The message was clear: as things currently stand, the 30-year-old is not planning a return to the NFL. That being said, a lot can change over a few months — just look at one of Gronkowski’s successors with the New England Patriots, Benjamin Watson, who returned only three months into his retirement. And despite Gronkowski’s statements on the matter seemingly every time he had a chance to make them, the rumor mill keeps running.
The latest person to add to it is Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, who wrote the following in his latest ‘10-point stance’ column:
Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski made a public appearance recently and said he was done with football. What I can tell you is few people, including sources on the Patriots, believe that.
The belief is that once the season gets going, and Gronkowski starts missing football, he will rejoin the team. It’s not just a hunch, sources say; you can count on it.
What immediately stands out is that the sources ‘believe’ that Gronkowski will change his mind and return to the Patriots, who still hold his rights as a player, at some point during the 2019 regular season. While this feeling could turn out to be a correct one later down the line, it does not appear to be rooted in any factual knowledge of the future Hall of Famer’s mind set — a mind set that appears to be in full retirement mode at the moment.
Does this mean Gronkowski will not return in case he ‘starts missing football’? That is of course impossible to say, but for now let’s just leave it at that: Gronkowski, a three-time world champion who redefined the tight end position over the last decade, stepped away from the game after posting one of the most impressive careers in NFL history. Is there any need for him to return to further boost his legacy? No.
And judging by his statements, the man himself agrees. And while that will apparently not stop the rumor mill from working, it still gives us a guiding light through the mist of speculation.