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Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce? Ex-Patriots tight end weighs in on the debate.

The two best tight ends in recent memory are being compared regularly. Now, Gronkowski shared his thoughts.

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11th Annual NFL Honors Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

For as long as there has been sports, there have been debates about who the best players truly are. When it comes to pro football’s tight end position, two names are frequently mentioned: former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski and his Kansas City Chiefs counterpart, Travis Kelce.

The two best tight ends of the last decade-plus, Gronkowski and Kelce are surefire first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famers. Both have made several All-Pro teams and earned multiple Pro Bowl nominations.

They also have each won championships throughout their storied careers: Gronkowski earned three rings with the Patriots and another with the Buccaneers, while Kelce will try to win his second Super Bowl on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Their success has led to fierce debates about where the two would rank historically. So, what does one of the two men in question think about the constant comparisons?

“I think they’re great,” Gronkowski told reporters this week. “We’re both No. 87 as well. I love Travis. I know Travis, he’s a lot of fun. He’s got a great personality and he’s always loose. What’s so amazing about his game is that he’s so loose. But the comparisons are great. He’s doing such a great job. I have so much respect for him. So, just to hear the comparisons all the time of everything that’s being said, I think it’s great for the game of football. I think it’s great for the tight end position as well.

“It’s a great category to be in. I would say he deserves it to be up there with the debate. I would say I deserve it, to be up in the debate. And we talked about it, and we said we don’t know who’s better, but we like to let everyone else decide and debate it.”

Gronkowski originally entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2010, and quickly began building a Hall of Fame résumé. Among the accolades he earned in New England were not just three of his four Super Bowl rings, but also spots on the NFL’s Team of the 2010s and 100th Anniversary Team.

Kelce, meanwhile, joined the league in 2013 as a third-round selection. He too earned four first-team All-Pro nods and a spot on the All-Decade Team for the 2010s; he too set numerous records related to the position.

“He’s been having a great career,” Gronkowski said. “It’s very hard to debate that. It is a debate, for sure. He’s having a heck of a career. I respect his game like no other, but I’m not here to say whose career was at the top. I’ll just let you guys do that.”

While Gronkowski was not open to sharing his opinion on the great tight end debate, he did acknowledge the differences between himself and the Chiefs great.

“We’re both also different style players, and that’s what it’s all about: finding your style,” the 33-year-old said. “People are always like, ‘Rob, you block more, you’re more physical.’ But guess what? That’s just not typically not his style, that’s not the offense he’s in, that’s not what they need him to do. So, if you’re going to be more successful with what he’s doing, how he’s used, how he’s utilized — under the center, in the backfield, out wide, in the slot — and if that’s going to put up more points for your team, well then that’s what you’re going to do.

“For myself and my scenario, if I’m lining up on the ball, being able to run the ball, have some play-action passes — I’m utilized totally differently. If that’s what’s going to put the most points up for our offense, that’s what I’m going to be doing. So, we’ve got two totally different-style games, and I would say that’s what makes the debate so great: we’re two totally different players but at the same position, but we’re both putting up a lot of points.”