FOXBORO, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski publicly considered retirement last offseason, waiting until late April to announce he would suit up for the New England Patriots in 2018.
With that 2018 season now nearly complete — the Patriots close out their regular-season schedule Sunday at home against the New York Jets — Gronkowski was asked Thursday whether he plans to play in 2019.
That response came three days after Patriots quarterback Tom Brady stated on Westwood One Radio he “absolutely believe(s)” he will suit up next season and hopefully beyond.
Gronkowski, who earlier this year said he has no desire to play for any QB other than Brady, was asked whether he intends to stick around as long as his 41-year-old signal-caller does. He sidestepped that question, as well, but asserted his intention to give maximum effort for the remainder of the season.
“I haven’t thought about that,” Gronkowski said. “We haven’t thought about that. We’ve got this big game Sunday still and the playoffs after, so that’s the last things that are on my mind right now.
“I love the grind. I’m all in. I’ve been all in all season, no matter if it’s been up (or) it’s been down. And I’m going to tell you this right now: I’m going to be all in for the rest of the year, no matter when it is. That’s just my main focus no matter how it goes.”
Gronkowski referred to the Patriots’ 2018 season as a “roller coaster” — a term that could apply to both the team and Gronk himself.
New England sits at 10-5 — its first five-loss season since 2009 — yet still has a chance to land the No. 2 or even No. 1 seed in the AFC this weekend. Gronkowski has enjoyed a few big games — Week 1 vs. Houston, Week 6 vs. Kansas City, Week 14 vs. Miami — but has not been nearly as dominant nor consistent as he had been in previous years.
In 12 games this season, Gronkowski has 45 catches for 658 yards and three touchdowns. In his last two contests, he has just two receptions on eight targets for 21 yards, including a goose egg in last Sunday’s 24-12 win over the Buffalo Bills.
Despite these struggles, Gronkowski said he’s enjoying himself this season. He shrugged off his lack of activity in the passing game, saying he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.
“I know how this game works,” he said. “I’ve been here for a while, and it’s a team game. If we run the ball 50 times, we run the ball 50 times. We’ve got to get that win. If we pass the ball 50 times, then we pass the ball 50 times. It’s all about the win.
“It’s all about doing what you need to do to help out the team — if it’s blocking, if it’s catching 10 balls that game, if it’s catching one ball that game, if it’s blocking the whole game. No matter what it is, I’m going to go full speed, and whatever Coach is asking me to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. And I feel like that’s how it is with everybody out here, which is great.”
Gronkowski closed out his news conference by preaching positivity.
“You’ve just got to stay positive,” he said. “You learn a lot of things every single year about yourself as you get older and how you adapt to things. You just learn that you’ve got to stay positive. You can’t get too down on yourself. Yeah, you can get down on yourself a little bit to get you re-motivated and stuff, but I’ve learned — that has happened to me before — if you get too down, you dig yourself a bigger hole.
“So you’ve just got to stay balanced. It’s a roller-coaster season, as you guys have seen all year, but when everything isn’t going right, you’ve just got to stay positive, keep going, keep doing what you need to do, and you know you’ll bounce back.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images