Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski accomplished something special in Tampa Bay this season.
Historically special, according to Gronkowski.
After catching two touchdown passes in Sunday’s 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, the veteran tight end said he and Brady joining the Buccaneers and immediately winning a championship was “hands-down one of the greatest accomplishments in sports history.”
?I mean, I?m not going to say it?s the greatest, but I would say it?s up there, for sure,” Gronkowski said in his postgame video conference. “To come down here to Tampa, come to an organization that was ready to win, come down here with the players that are all fantastic players, great guys, everyone overall. The story is just unbelievable, and it definitely ranks up there as one of my biggest accomplishments ever.”
Brady led the New England Patriots to nine Super Bowls and six titles over 20 seasons before signing with Tampa Bay last offseason. Gronkowski, who was on three of those championship-winning Patriots squads, retired after the 2018 season, sat out a year, then returned to join Brady in Florida.
While Gronk’s “greatest in history” boast sounds hyperbolic, he’s not completely off base. The Buccaneers’ all-time regular-season winning percentage of .393 is the worst of any active franchise in the four major American sports leagues. Before this season, they’d won just six playoff games since their inception in 1976 — three of which came during their lone championship run in 2002 — and hadn’t reached the postseason since 2007.
Now, less than a year after swapping out Jameis Winston for the greatest quarterback of all time (and bringing one of his most trusted targets aboard, as well), they’re Super Bowl champs, navigating a global pandemic to get there.
?It feels amazing,” Gronkowski said. “It feels tremendous. It?s just an unbelievable story. … What a year it was playing with these guys. Just, what a year. I can?t say that enough, what a year it was. It was a pleasure, and now it?s time to celebrate. Now it?s time to celebrate with these guys, because we deserve it. It was a grind. It was about 28 weeks straight of football, and now we?re going to celebrate, because that?s what it?s all about.?
Valued more for his blocking than his pass-catching this season, the 31-year-old Gronkowski totaled just two receptions over the Buccaneers’ first three playoff games before breaking out with six catches on seven targets for 67 yards and two scores in the Super Bowl.
He became just the second player ever to catch two touchdown passes in multiple Super Bowls, joining Jerry Rice, and also laid a key block on Leonard Fournette’s third-quarter touchdown run.
“You never know with this offense who?s going to get the ball, who?s going to make the plays, because we?ve got so much talent on our team,” said Gronkowski, who led the Bucs in all three receiving categories Sunday. “That?s what made this team so special. We have so many superstars on the team, but nobody?s head was ever too big this year. Never on the defensive side, never on the offensive side.
“Whoever got the ball, got the ball. We were all happy for each other. … It just happened to be me this time — to be me making the plays.”
Gronkowski, whose two clutch catches in his final Patriots Super Bowl set up New England’s game-winning touchdown, always has performed on the NFL’s grandest stage. Here are his stats from his last four Super Bowl outings:
XLIX vs. Seattle Seahawks: six catches, 68 yards, touchdown
LII vs. Philadelphia Eagles: nine catches, 115 yards, two touchdowns
LIII vs. Los Angeles Rams: six catches, 87 yards
LV vs. Kansas City Chiefs: six catches, 67 yards, two touchdowns
Brady, still sharp and fiery at age 43, enjoyed one of his most efficient Super Bowl performances to date in his 10th appearance, completing 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions to claim Super Bowl MVP honors for the fifth time. His third touchdown pass went to receiver Antonio Brown, who briefly played for the Patriots during the 2019 season.
“Big-time players making big-time plays,” Brady said. “I just love what they added to the team. Gronk’s an unbelievable player, teammate, talent, work ethic, commitment, and AB, since he got here, he’s just done everything the right way.”
Gronkowski said he plans to “stay unretired” and play next season, though which team he’ll play for remains to be seen. He’s set to hit free agency for the first time in his NFL career but has said in the past he’ll never play with any quarterback but Brady.