Gronk out: Patriots tight end retires

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Gronk out: Patriots tight end retires

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Brent Jansen, Staff Writer

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After only nine seasons in the NFL, New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski has officially retired.

Gronk posted a picture on Instagram with a long message giving thanks to the Patriots organization as well as coach Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft, and the Patriots fan base. Gronk finishes his career with 7,861 receiving yards, 79 touchdowns, and 521 receptions. Gronk is a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro tight end.

Gronk was known on the field for being a big bodied receiver that few defenders could stop. His size and strength would require several defenders to bring him down, and sometimes that didn’t even stop him. His patented “Gronk-Spike” was even featured on the cover of the Madden video games. But for everything Gronk did on the field, he was also popular for his antics off the field.

Gronk was the NFL’s favorite party boy (not to be compared to the NFL’s least favorite party boy, Johnny Manziel). Gronk’s wild side was seen on display on several occasions throughout his career, whether on the Patriots’ victory parade after Gronk’s three Super Bowl victories, his childish jokes about the number “69”, or his infamous party cruise, the NFL will surely miss their (policy abiding) party boy.

Gronk hinted at retirement after the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Eagles last year but ultimately decided to come back and give the Super Bowl another shot, this time with more success. Early retirement was never off the table for Gronk because of his long history of injuries, primarily his back. In his nine-year career, Gronk only played a full 16-game season twice, his first two seasons.

Gronk’s decision to walk away was felt far and wide beyond the parameters of Foxborough and Gillette Stadium. It extended to UNC Wilmington’s campus where a multitude of Pats fans stays.

“Rob Gronkowski has meant the world to me. Not only has he been such a pleasure as a fan to watch, but the kind of person he has been off of the field with all of the work he has done with children’s hospitals in Boston just shows the kind of heart he has,” said senior Brian Carpenter. “That kind of gratitude is something I can truly appreciate and somebody I can look up to as a role model. Gronk has been one of my all-time favorite players to watch.”

The discussion now leans to Gronk’s argument for the Hall of Fame. His short tenure works against him in this debate, but with everything Gronk has accomplished on the field, statistically and for the position itself, Gronk surely has a place reserved in Canton.

Staff Writer Brent Jansen can be found on Twitter @brentjans. Any tips or suggestions should be forwarded via email to bms8544@uncw.edu.