The big lunk isn’t as enormous as he used to be. Since he retired from football last year, Rob Gronkowski has downsized, his NFL body weight, once tipping 260, is now down to a commoner’s 240 or so. That’s what happens when life isn’t spent building the body armor needed to compete physically in a big boy’s game.
He seems generally happy being able to get off bed without something on his frame in distress. And he certainly has enough money to live the way he wants to live. Remember, he told us once that during his career with the Patriots he lived entirely on his product endorsement money, socking away his league salary to help him through the post-retirement days.
You know, some people just can’t let him be. Every so often, a new rumor is started out about how much he misses the NFL, how much he wishes he was back – how much the Patriots want him back.
“It was a pleasure and a privilege to coach Rob Gronkowski the past nine years,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when Gronk retired. “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. His elite combination of size, skill, intelligence, toughness and ability to perform in pressure situations set him apart.”
That all may be true. But it doesn’t necessarily mean he going to rush back when he’s not ready.
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN on Tuesday, the Gronk admitted he hasn’t totally dismissed the idea of making a comeback. But he says it wouldn’t happen in time to help the Patriots win another Super Bowl – this season.
“I wouldn’t say ‘never coming back,'” Gronkowski said. “I’m 30 years old. I’m young. I still stay fit, still watch the game whenever I can still enjoy it. I’m feeling good, but you know, one year off could possibly be the case. Or maybe two years off, man.
“It’s always an option in the back of my head. It’s not like I’m not staying in shape and not doing anything. I’m never stressed over it.”
Gronk is keeping busy. His comments were in conjunction with his plan to host a Super Bowl party in South Florida – “Gronk Beach.” As part of the announcement, Gronkowski produced a video featuring two personas. One was him begging himself to return to football. The other was him just promoting what a good time the party will be.
“What’s better, me playing in the game or me hitting this party?,” Gronkowski asks in the video.
It was quintessential Gronkowski.
“In the nine years that I have known Rob Gronkowski, I have never known him to have a bad day,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft once said. “He always has a youthful exuberance about him and is a joy to be around.”
If nothing else, that should be enough to convince his fans he’s not interested in getting back in uniform. If he did, he has until Nov. 30 to say so. That’s the NFL-mandated deadline for playing this season.
That’s not to say the Patriots couldn’t use him. Tom Brady was bitching about New England’s offense in the aftermath of Sunday’s quiet 17-10 win in Philadelphia. We all know how much Brady loved to throw to his favorite tight end. We know they don’t have much of a vertical attack. Wouldn’t it be great if he had another chance to do so this season?
“With the offense, they’re finding ways to make it work like they’ve always done, putting guys in the right situation to make plays. But man, they’re missing some guy who is 6-6, 260 [pounds]. They’re missing that guy, for sure,” Gronkowski said.
Gronkowski admits retirement has been an acquired taste. Accustomed to such a fast-paced life, on and off the field, he has been looking for ways to kick up the adrenaline.
“It’s definitely a different chapter, doing a lot of different things, just finding what I really like I do, and finding out things sometimes I don’t like to do. It’s definitely interesting because I’ve played football my whole life,” Gronkowski said.
“I have to keep things going, that sports competitiveness going. I love to play backyard games, pickup games, because I still have that competition in me. That’s how I’ve been my whole life, playing sports. Also with the fun aspect, too. Even since I was a little kid – we always hustled, always played sports, but then we would always have a party after, go enjoy ourselves, because that’s what life is all about.”
When he announced his retirement following last season, Gronkowski did admit the physical toll had gotten him down. He has many injuries to his back, knees and arms. He missed multiple games because of it his career.
“When that time comes down in the future, if I have the desire to play football again, if I feel passionate about football again, if I feel like I need to be out there on the field, I will go back to football,” he said over the summer.
No one is going to be surprised if he comes out of retirement next season and saddles up again with Brady to lead New England’s next run to the Super Bowl.
Just forget about it happening this season. The Gronk is having too much fun right now.