The future NFL hall-of-famer made the announcement Sunday, via Instagram.
From Gronk's lengthy caption:
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.
He went on to thank Patriots fans and the Patriots organization, then wrote that 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."
Gronkowski retires as a Super Bowl champ three times over and as one of the biggest names in the game. He also retires battered and scarred, having suffered multiple injuries to his back, knees, ankle and arm. In the last couple of years he has had less and less time on the field and more time laid up and recuperating.
Gronk's girlfriend Camille Kostek posted a message of support on her own Instagram.
Next to an image of the couple kissing during a post-game celebration, Kostek addressed Gronk, writing in part, "You motivate me to be better, you show me that limits can be pushed and that challenges make you stronger. If you ask me, you’re the best to ever do it. There is nothing like the thrill of watching you play. I love you with all my heart, you allow me to take the term “proud girlfriend” to a new level..."
Social media reactions to Rob Gronkowski's announcement from fans were immediate. Many hailed his incredible career.
There were the usual malcontents but the overwhelming reaction was—even among those who hated the Patriots—respectful of Gronk's legacy.
The thing is, there are already hints that Gronkowski might reconsider his decision—from his agent, no less.
In an article that also quoted NFL coaches and managers who said it was "a privilege to compete against" Gronk and that he was the "[best] tight end of his era," Pro Football Talk's Peter King confused the issue by reaching out to the tight end's agent, Drew Rosenhaus:
So that’s it … or is it? Rosenhaus said it wouldn’t shock him if Gronkowski decided to come back sometime in 2019. We’ll see. There’s nothing to indicate a return to football now. For now, there’s a void in New England, and in the NFL. A really fun player, a really good player, walked away with something left in the tank.
Well, okay then.
It's much more likely that in the near future he'll just party his face off, as he's clearly gifted in that arena as well.