'Pain-free' Rob Gronkowski won't rule out NFL return, empathizes with Andrew Luck

NEW YORK – After describing himself as pain-free for the first time in a decade, Rob Gronkowski isn’t ruling out a possible return to the Patriots and the NFL.

Gronkowski, who retired after winning Super Bowl LIII with New England earlier this year, made the revelation while announcing a partnership with Abacus Health Products, specifically its CBD Medic line.

“I love all of my fans and they always ask when I’m coming back,” Gronkowski said. “I understand and I feel that love, [but] I needed to recover. I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down and I didn’t like it.

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“When that time comes in the future, if I have the desire to play football again and I feel passionate about football again, if I’m feeling like I need to be out there on the field, I will go back to football. As of right now, that is not the case. It could be the case in six months, it could be the case in two years, it could be three years, it could be the case in three months, but I truly don’t see it in the future of a week or a month.”

While that news will be encouraging to New England (and rightfully so), Gronkowski noted that he is “satisfied” with where he is in life, having recently announced involvement in the “Stadium Blitz” this fall in addition to his CBD Medic announcement.

NFL player Rob Gronkowski, of the New England Patriots, arrives at the Kids' Choice Sports Awards on Thursday, July 11, 2019, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Rob Gronkowski says he's pain-free and won't rule out a possible return to the NFL, but nothing is imminent. (AP)

“I’m not even sure that’s [playing again] is a possibility. Physically, I’ll be ready,” Gronkowski said. “I can play in the NFL right now if I wanted to. I can run fast, I’m feeling good. Mentally, desire-wise, it’s not there. My mind and my soul keep telling me I need more time off. When I feel my body is top-notch and my mind and soul are ready, then I would go back to the NFL— if I ever get to that point. I can be mentally and physically ready, but [I won’t come back] if I’m enjoying my life and where I’m at business-wise and whatnot.”


Gronk: ‘I feel for Andrew Luck

Gronkowski has one year left on his contract with New England, meaning should he come back, he would rejoin the only franchise he has ever played for.

A four-time first-team All-Pro tight end during his career, Gronkowski hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2011 due to myriad injuries. Unlike Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement last weekend, Gronkowski’s announcement last March didn’t come as a surprise considering the toll the game had taken on him and his Hall of Fame resume.

Still, Gronkowski empathizes with the now-former Colts quarterback’s decision and situation.


“Obviously from what he said, he was clearly in a lot of pain,” Gronkowski said. “I can definitely relate to Andrew Luck in that situation. I feel for Andrew Luck.”

The play in which Gronk knew he was done with football

To illustrate his own ordeal, an emotional Gronkowski went into graphic detail about the leg injury he suffered in the early stages of Super Bowl LIII, which ultimately led to him having 1,000 milliliters of blood removed from his quadriceps.

“I caught a pass on the left side and the linebacker took me out, [he hit me] right here on my quad, flipped me in the air and right there I knew my quad was done,” Gronkowski said. “It was right there, I knew it was the last game, Super Bowl, just give it all you have. After the game, I could barely walk. I tried to go to bed [after the party] and I slept for five minutes. I couldn’t even think, I was in tears in my bed after the Super Bowl victory. That didn’t make sense to me. For four weeks after I couldn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes a night.”


Gronkowski’s goal working with CBD Medic is twofold. In addition to helping him heal his body, he’s also attempting to raise awareness for leagues like the NFL to allow players to use “life-changing” alternate treatments like CBD.

Gronkowski also relayed a message to his peers who may be experiencing the kind of issues he dealt with during and immediately after his career.

“Whatever you’re dealing with, it’s fixable,” Gronkowski said. “You have to go out and look for it though. You can’t just sit on the couch and complain about [your injuries]. You have to search for answers and what’s best for your body and what’s best for you mentally.”

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