I for one did not see this one coming.
I don't think I'm in the minority when I say I assumed Rob Gronkowski's equivocating about whether he was playing next year was all talk. That he needed a break and by stalling he'd get to skip some workouts and still show up part way through Buccaneers camp looking like a Greek statue come to life as always. But there's no doubt in this announcement. A man doesn't post on Instagram unless he's giving you his word that this time is for real.
There's a lot to process here. A long and storied career to put into perspective. But that's for later. For now I have many questions. Why, for instance, now? He seemed healthy enough over the last couple of years. He clearly seemed happy being Tom Brady's Huckleberry. Brady's back for at least one more year. The Bucs are certainly a contender again. So assuming he lost the sense of commitment to the game that he obviously did with his first retirement from the Patriots after the 2018 season, why this time? What was it about the idea of playing in Tampa in 2022 that was so distasteful he decided he'd rather go back to occasional spots on Fox NFL coverage and promoting energy drinks and CBD oil?
And if I can be selfish for a second (why stop now), what's with him and Brady making "retirement" announcements that don't make a single mention of New England? Is he, like the GOAT, just trying to retire from Tampa and not from football altogether? If he doesn't sign a one-day contract with the team that made him great to officially retire a Patriot and then start the clock to his Hall of Fame(s) induction in five years, I'm not officially accepting this as official.
If it is, then this concludes the career of one of the truly elite athletes any of us have seen in this lifetime or any other. Stay tuned.