Column: Gronkowski retirement would make sense

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) dances as he celebrates a touchdown reception, during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

As the clock hit all zeros in Super Bowl 52, questions and rumors surrounding the New England Patriots started running rampant. Most of them were the same ones we’ve heard the past few years: Will Brady retire? What about Belichick? Is this the end of the dynasty?

We got at least partial answers to all of those questions within 24 hours of the game ending. Brady and Belichick both expect to be back, and those things alone should answer any questions about the dynasty ending. But one storyline came out of the post-game pressers that nobody expected. Rob Gronkowski did not confirm that he would continue playing football beyond this season.

“I'm definitely going to look at my future, for sure. I'm going to sit down the next couple of weeks and see where I'm at,” Gronkowski said following the game. He was then asked what would make him retire, and Gronkowski said "I'm not ready for these types of questions right now. I'm just going to sit down, reflect on the season, talk to my teammates.”

The fact that Gronk didn’t definitively say he was coming back next season raised a lot of eyebrows. And although Bill Belichick said it’s normal for every player to go through this thought process (https://nesn.com/2018/02/bill-belichick-addressed-rob-gronkowski-retirement-rumors-after-super-bowl-lii/) retirement might actually be the best move.

Before we go any further, let me make this clear: I’m a Patriots fan. This article wasn’t born from a desire to see the Patriots get weaker. Rather, from a logical point of view, Gronk retiring makes all sorts of sense. Why? Because Gronk has a lucrative future ahead of him no matter what he decides to do.

Football takes a toll on the body and Gronk has taken more than his fair share of injuries. Since entering the league, Tom Brady’s favorite target has suffered a fractured forearm, a fractured back, a high ankle sprain and multiple concussions, including one just three weeks ago when he played against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With quality of life after football becoming a more prominent concern, and with the consequences of repeated concussions being further brought to light, it makes sense that a guy like Gronk may start to think twice about things. That’s especially true given all the opportunities he’ll have when he’s done playing.

This isn’t some nameless left tackle we’re talking about here. This is Rob Gronkowski, one of the biggest personalities in the NFL. He’s known as the fun-loving, goofy musclehead who just loves life. He’s incredibly marketable, which he’s already shown by starring in commercials, making guest appearances in Entourage and Family Guy and even stepping into a WWE ring at WrestleMania 33. His brand is so strong and he’s so likeable that his ability to generate money isn’t strictly tied to football anymore. He can hang up the cleats and be just fine. Considering how injury-prone he’s been throughout his short eight-year career in the NFL, maybe this is the right way to go. The last thing anybody wants is for Gronk to be one of those guys 20 years down the line who is just a shell of his former self both mentally and physically.

I’m not here to tell Gronk what to do. It should go without saying that not playing football is safer than playing football, so yes, of course it’s better for his health not to play. But only Gronk himself knows how his body can respond to any future injuries, and only he can decide if it’s worth it. If he decides he still loves the game and wants to continue being the most uncoverable player in the NFL, I’d be ecstatic. But if Super Bowl 52 was his last game, no one should blame him for putting his health first.


Brandon Carney is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brandon.carney@uconn.edu.