Rob Gronkowski shares candid thoughts about Patriots-Bucs reunion game

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Gronk shares candid thoughts about Bucs-Pats reunion game originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Rob Gronkowski isn't even going to pretend like this is just another game.

Gronkowski's Tampa Bay Buccaneers will travel to New England in Week 4 of the 2021 NFL season to face the Patriots, as he and quarterback Tom Brady return to Foxboro for the first time since both players left the team.

While Brady spent two decades with the Patriots, Gronk still has plenty of history in New England: He won three Super Bowls over nine seasons with the Pats, amassing 7,861 receiving yards and 80 touchdowns while cementing his legacy as one of the greatest tight ends of all time.

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So, you'd best believe Gronkowski will be feeling feelings on Oct. 3 when he returns to Gillette Stadium.

"That's going to be crazy. It's going to be pretty epic," Gronk told Buccaneers.com's Casey Phillips in a recent interview. "It's definitely going to be emotional for sure, I would say. I just had a great nine years (in New England). 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. It's going to be a good one. It's going to be different."

Gronkowski's comments are a refreshing departure from the "one-game-at-a-time" approach in Foxboro. Patriots-Bucs is one of the most highly-anticipated regular season matchups in NFL history, and it's nice to see the 32-year-old tight end acknowledge that.

Even the normally-reserved Brady weighed in about the matchup, tweeting that the game will be like "when your high school friends meet your college friends."

Brady and Gronk will have plenty of catching up to do with former teammates and coaches (yes, even head coach Bill Belichick) when they visit New England this fall. But if Brady's father speaks for his son, the defending Super Bowl champion Bucs will have winning atop their minds entering the game.