Credit where it’s due: This was some first-class trolling by Rob Gronkowski and the Big-J journalists at “Pardon My Take.”

Gronkowski sent the internet into a tizzy Tuesday night when simply tweeted the eyeball emoji just after 5 p.m. ET.

Naturally, most people jumped to conclusions, speculating (or hoping) that this one simple tweet was somehow indicated the legendary tight end might be gearing up for a return to the New England Patriots.

But when Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” dropped its latest episode Tuesday night, it was all revealed to be a ruse — at least for now. Gronkowski made a guest appearance on the podcast as part of his swing through Barstool headquarters in New York City — he also “revealed” the week in which he’ll return to the NFL — and at the end of the interview, the plan was hatched.

As the conversation wrapped up, Barstool personality Big Cat made the request.

Big Cat: “Can you do us a favor? We did this with Blake Griffin and it would definitely work with you. Can you tweet the eyeball emoji (Tuesday) night right before the podcast drops? And then when people get to this point of the podcast, they’re going to feel like idiots because will assume you’re coming back, but really, we’re just — ”
Gronkowski: “What’s the eyeball emoji?”
Big Cat: “It’s just ‘look out — something’s happening.’
Gronkowski: “Oh, look out.”
Big Cat: “People will assume it’s you coming back, but really, it’s you just coming on ‘Pardon My Take.’
Gronkowski: “That’s actually a great idea because this is big news (me coming on ‘Pardon My Take.’ … This is bigger than coming back Week 14. This is where it’s at.”

Gronkowski, unsurprisingly, was all in on having some fun with the people.

“They’ll feel great because they’ll be like ‘He’s coming back Week 14! Week 14, he’s coming back!’ Wow!” he said, giggling with amazement.

So, yeah, stand down, football fans — at least until Week 14.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images