BREAKING: Rob Gronkowski is retiring from the NFL

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This hurts to write.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement from the NFL in a heartfelt Instagram post. 

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

There is absolutely no question Gronk, a three-time Super Bowl champion, will go down as the greatest tight end in NFL history, as well as a top 10 all-time Patriot and one of the most marketable players the world of sports has ever seen.

There were injury concerns surrounding him when New England drafted him in 2010, but when Gronk was on the field, there was no stopping him. The future first-ballot hall of famer finishes his career with 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns.

In just his first season, he caught 10 touchdown passes on 59 targets and then caught 17 the following season.

And while there are no shortage of incredible Gronk moments, he saved some of his best for last. In the AFC title game against Kansas City, Gronk made two critical catches - one on the Patriots' go-ahead drive with under a minute in the fourth quarter and then again in overtime on the game-winning drive. He also made one of the biggest offensive plays of Super Bowl LIII when he hauled in a pass from Tom Brady to set New England up at the two yard line. On the next play, Sony Michel scored the only touchdown of the game, a 13-3 Patriots triumph over the Los Angeles Rams.

As the 2018-2019 season went on, it was clear Gronk was not the same player from an offensive production standpoint. However, as the Patriots evolved into a run-first football team, Gronk's ability to block was still very much there. He would often be used as an extra tight end in running situations and was almost exclusively that for stretches of the year.

Even though he is now done with football, the Gronkowski brand will still thrive. It's been rumored that he could get into acting or make a career out of pro wrestling (although I don't know why he'd want to go from the NFL to the WWE, but that's just me).

As a fan, it obviously sucks to see him go, but I absolutely don't blame him for walking away now. At some point, you've got to consider your long-term health. It was clear his body was breaking down on him and he is a month and a half removed from his third title, so why not go out on top? But I, as well as every other Pats fan who had the pleasure to watch him over the years, will always be grateful for all the memories he gave us.

Enjoy retirement, big guy. You deserve it.

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