Even though it’s a few months in the past, Rob Gronkowski’s decision to retire took many by surprise.
The mere fact he retired wasn’t that surprising, but rather that it came via an Instagram post on a Sunday night with no real indication that he’d call it a career or keep playing leaking out ahead of his decision.
So why, exactly, did Gronkowski retire? It appears that, in part, his family was encouraging him to walk away for the sake of his health.
During an appearance Wednesday on WEEI, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio shed some light on why the now-former New England Patriots tight end retired.
“Well I remember back in the days preceding Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, there was a rumor making the rounds that Gronkowski would retire after that game, presumably if the Patriots won,” Florio said. “And remember, he was asked the question, ‘any truth to the rumor that you may retire?’ He said, ‘I don’t know how you heard about that,’ so there was a ‘that’ to be heard about. My information was that his family had really been working on him to walk away, primarily because of his injury history, specifically the concussions. Remember, he got blown up in the AFC Championship Game, I think it was by Barry Church, and that was causing parents, brothers, etc. to push him to walk, and he ultimately didn’t.
“I think if they had won the Super Bowl, we would have done this whole thing last year, the speculation ‘will he be back for 2018 or won’t he.’ He would have retired then and we would have spent the offseason wondering how long it would stick. Now here we are, he finally walked away with that Super Bowl trophy in hand, walking off into the sunset like Jerome Bettis, Michael Strahan, John Elway. So now the question becomes is he going to decide, ‘Hey, I still want to do this.’ I think he still enjoys playing, I don’t think he enjoys all of the other stuff, but I think he enjoys playing and I think he’s going to miss playing.
“And the one key thing that we reported (Tuesday) and the thing that really caught my eye, the notion that a direct appeal from Tom Brady could be the thing that ultimately makes the difference for Gronk.”
Gronk had taken an absolute beating over his career, so you certainly can’t blame him (or any athlete, for that matter) for prioritizing his health.
Now the question is: Will he stay retired? Florio thinks the chance of Gronk returning to the gridiron is “slightly north of 50” percent.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images