If you want to see the reigning world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the New England Patriots in early October, you better start saving now. According to Ticketmaster, the cheapest seats available for the highly-anticipated meeting at Gillette Stadium are currently re-sold for $1,000 a piece. The most expensive tickets go at $12,199.
It is not hard to see why that is the case. For the first time since leaving the Patriots in March 2020, quarterback Tom Brady will return to the town where he won six Super Bowls; for the first time ever he will square off against his long-time head coach, Bill Belichick.
The hype train for the game has already left the station, and it is not slowing down anytime soon. The ticket prices are a reflection of that.
Rob Gronkowski, meanwhile, will not have to worry about them. The Buccaneers tight end and fellow Patriots legend will have a literal front row seat for the contest — one that he believes has the potential to be an entertaining affair.
“That’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be pretty epic. It’s definitely going to be emotional for sure, I would say,” Gronkowski recently told Casey Phillips of Buccaneers.com.
A former second-round draft pick by the Patriots, Gronkowski earned three Super Bowl rings during his time with the team. Along the way he established himself as the best tight end of his era, and arguably the most complete player the position has ever seen.
Not only was he a ferocious blocker, he also proved himself a mismatch nightmare. As a result, Gronkowski posted some impressive numbers: between his arrival in 2010 and his final season in New England in 2018, he caught 602 passes in a combined 131 regular season and playoff games for 9,024 yards as well as 91 touchdowns — laying the foundation for a career that will see him get enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on first ballot.
Following the Patriots’ win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53, however, Gronkowski announced his retirement. While the timing of the announcement may have been unfortunate from New England’s perspective, the decision did not come as a surprise: Gronkowski had won everything, but also suffered his fair share of injuries.
His retirement was short-lived, though, as he expressed a desire to return and join Brady in Tampa Bay just one year in.
The Patriots subsequently traded him to the Buccaneers, and he went on to become a key player on the championship-winning team. Playing in all 20 of his new club’s games last season, Gronkowski finished with 53 receptions for 733 yards as well as 9 touchdowns — including two in Tampa Bay’s blowout win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55.
Now heading into his second year with the organization, Gronkowski will also get a chance to meet up with his former team again.
“I just had a great nine years,” he said. “Probably the best nine years of my life. It was the beginning of basically my whole football career there. It’s definitely going to be heartfelt when I go back, and I’ve just got to be prepared for that game. I’ve got to be prepared for every game, but especially that one. It’s never going to be easy. It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be a good one. It’s going to be different.”
What also is going to be different is the Patriots: they were the biggest spenders over the course of the offseason, and completely rebuilt a team that went just 7-9 in Year 1 after Tom Brady’s departure. Whether that translates to wins remains to be seen, but the team as a whole should be more competitive than it was a yea ago.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, are expected to compete for the title yet again after keeping their entire starting lineup intact.
“It’s nice now that we have a year under our belt. I felt like our offense started clicking more at the end of the year. We all started to get the feel of each other. The chemistry was building up throughout the year,” Gronkowski said about Tampa Bay heading into its title defense.
“But it’s going to be great. We got everyone back on the offensive side of the ball — defensive side of the ball too, which is incredible. But we can just keep building. We can keep stacking days. We can keep getting better just as a unit. But we’ve got to put the work in. We know that it’s not easy to do that, but we know that if we put the work in, we keep stacking days, we can keep improving week-in and week-out.”