Rob Gronkowski ended an offseason of speculation on Tuesday, announcing on Instagram that he intends to play for the New England Patriots in the upcoming season.
Gronkowski was non-committal about continuing to play football after February’s Super Bowl loss.
“I’m not ready for these type of questions right now,” Gronkowski said in the postgame news conference. “I’m just going to sit down, reflect on the season, probably talk to my teammates. We fought all year long, all the receivers, running backs, linemen, we put all the work in together, so I’m just going to reflect on the season, proud of the boys, and just see what happens.”
The offseason continued with reports that Gronkowski, a free spirit, hasn’t been happy playing in coach Bill Belichick’s regimented system accompanied by vague tweets hinting at doing things other than football.
Gronkowski’s career has been riddled with injuries, with the tight end playing through pain for much of his time in New England. He has had multiple back surgeries dating back to his college days at Arizona and suffered multiple sprains, tears and concussions. In 2012 he broke his forearm and ended up needing multiple operations after an infection. When he returned to the field for a playoff game that season, he broke his arm again.
He has also said in the past the he has yet to touch any of the money he’s made playing football, saving his salary while living off of his endorsement earnings and implying a financial readiness to retire at any point.
Most recently, Gronkowski chose to promote a dirt-bike rally instead of attending New England’s voluntary workouts, further amping up speculation that he would rather do other things than play for Belichick.
But in the end, whether it was all a big joke or he genuinely needed to do some soul-searching about his life and football priorities — or a little bit of both — the pull of competition, winning with the Patriots and football riches all apparently added up to be too strong for Gronkowski to resist.
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