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Patriots' Rob Gronkowski announces his retirement following nine NFL seasons

Patriots' Rob Gronkowski announces his retirement following nine NFL seasons
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski celebrates with teammates after beating the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII in February. (Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

One of the most prolific tight ends in NFL history is calling it a career.

Rob Gronkowski, who played a significant role in helping Tom Brady and Bill Belichick extend the New England Patriots’ nearly two-decade long era of dominance, announced his retirement via Instagram on Sunday.

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“It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far,” Gronkowski wrote. “I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that [Patriots owner Robert Kraft] and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010.”

Hobbled by injury, Gronkowski’s effectiveness in the Patriots’ offense has been limited over the last three seasons. In November, Gronkowski described his 2018 season as “challenging” after nagging back and ankle injuries kept him sidelined for multiple games.

In 13 games last season, Gronkowski still made an impact — even if he wasn’t playing at his typical Pro Bowl level. He caught 47 passes for 682 yards but was held to only three touchdowns, the lowest since his injury-riddled 2016 season. Despite this, he helped New England secure its sixth Super Bowl title, and third since he joined the team.

Gronkowski retires as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. The four-time All-Pro selection has the most 1,000-yard seasons by a tight end (four) and the most career postseason receiving touchdowns (12). His 79 career touchdown catches rank him third all-time among tight ends and his 297 yards receiving is the most in Super Bowl history. The five-time Pro Bowler finishes with 521 catches for 7,861 yards.

“From his rookie year until his final season and through countless times in between, Rob was a major reason why we won games and championships,” Belichick said in a statement. “His elite combination of size, skill, intelligence, toughness and ability to perform is pressure situations set him apart.”

View this post on Instagram

It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine. Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be apart of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.

A post shared by Rob Gronkowski (@gronk) on

Brady paid homage to Gronkowski’s role in the Patriots’ success in an Instagram post:

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