When Tom Brady signed with the Buccaneers last March, he convinced old friend Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement and join him in Tampa Bay.
Ten months later, both are preparing to play in Super Bowl LV.
The Buccaneers defeated the Green Bay Packers 31-26 in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field, setting up a Super Bowl date with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. It’ll be the 10th Super Bowl appearance in Brady’s remarkable career and the fifth for Gronkowski, who missed the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl LI victory with an injury.
After the game, the former Patriots stars shared a moment in the Tampa Bay locker room, as Gronkowski explained during a Sunday night appearance on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.”
?I didn?t see him until we got in the locker room,” the tight end said, speaking over FaceTime from the Bucs’ team bus. “We just gave each other a big hug and said, ?This is what it?s all about. This is why we came down here.? This is a dream. All the work we put in — we knew we had to put a lot of work in — and then just coming to an organization that was ready for success. A lot of great players on this team, a lot of great coaches.
?We just gave each other a big hug and said, ?Man, we?re doing it, and we?re doing it big. And it?s for real. We?re going to the Super Bowl. We came down here to Tampa, man. Let?s finish it off. We?ve got two more weeks to keep working. Let?s keep going, and let?s finish it off.? ?
A surefire Hall of Famer, Gronkowski spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Patriots. He retired after Super Bowl LIII and did not play in 2019, Brady’s final year in New England.
But once Brady left for Tampa, Gronkowski opted to resume his playing career. The Patriots agreed to trade the 31-year-old’s rights to the Bucs along with a seventh-round draft pick for a 2020 fourth-rounder. Gronk went on to appear in every game this season, catching 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns.
?The decision to come down here, I was just ready to play ball again,” Gronkowski told Corden. “And when Tom called, I thought it was just a great opportunity to go down to Florida — I love the state of Florida, love the weather down here — and to go play with Tom again. … It just felt like it was right to go down there and play.
“And now to get here — we?re going to the Super Bowl — I mean, this is what it?s all about. Obviously, we came down here to go all the way, but to go all the way this quickly the first year, it?s just unbelievable, man.”
Most of Gronkowski’s contributions this postseason have come as a blocker, as he’s totaled just two catches on seven targets for 43 yards in three playoff games. He said earlier this month he hopes to re-sign with the Bucs this offseason.