In March, one of the greatest pro football careers of all time came to an end when Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement after nine seasons in the NFL. The rumor mill about a potential return to the New England Patriots further down the line has worked overtime since then, but the future Hall of Famer has stayed on course ever since stepping away from the game: he is retired and he plans on staying retired.
However, the 30-year-old also recently stated that he knows there will be times when he is going to miss the game: when Gronkowski visited the Rich Eisen Show last week to talk about retired life, he also acknowledged that the itch to play football might return once the season is underway. “There’s definitely going to be times when you miss it and everything,” the three-time world champion told Eisen.
“I would always say that it’s still the offseason right now. I mean I can’t really say how I’m going to feel about it when the games start rolling around and everything,” Gronkowski continued. Ultimately, however, it appears as if he is quite happy with his decision to end his pro football career after 131 games for the Patriots in which he caught a combined 602 regular season and playoff passes for 9,024 yards and 91 touchdowns.
“You know, I just felt like it was time,” Gronkowski, the NFL’s most productive tight end of his era, said. “I feel really good right now and it was just definitely something I felt like it was the right time and the right thing to do. To have that load off your back, I mean I’ve been playing football for 15 years straight in a row of that grind. Just relaxing right now feels good. [...] Just been relaxing, traveling, seeing the family, just enjoying myself.”
The former second-round draft selection also pointed out that a summer away from the game of football will be a new experience for him: “You want to know something? I never had an August off in my life. So, it’s gonna be a little different. That’s when it’s gonna start really seeing the change is when that comes around in August when I’m not in training camp; I might not know what to do with myself.”
In the unlikely case that Gronkowski does decide to return to the Patriots — the team still holds his rights until his contract officially expires after the 2019 season — he would have to put in some work, especially to add weight to his frame: “I have definitely lost some weight,” he said. “I’ve been 260 since I was 18 years old, from 260 to like 270. I just always wanted to see what it feels like to get down, to feel light, to feel loose.”
Now down to 250 pounds, Gronkowski looks noticeably slimmer than the imposing wide receiver/offensive tackle hybrid he was during his playing days. Jokingly, however, he also pointed out that he would still have some time to get in shape again before possibly returning: “Call me when you get to the playoffs,” he told Eisen when the host role-played as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady asking about a potential comeback.
Is this an indicator of things to come? At this point, it still seems unlikely. But who knows how Gronkowski’s mindset will look like once football returns and his former teammates are back on the field again...