When the news broke on Instagram that Gronk was retiring from the NFL, it felt surreal. No matter how many times the question has been asked over the past few years as we watched Gronk’s body slowly deteriorate for his entire 20’s (oddly parallel to my own experiences), coming to terms to life without Gronk is not going to be an easy road.
My entire social media feed began to flood with Gronk’s highlights, his clutch plays and his obsession with the number 69. Honestly it was a lot of emotion for a Sunday night when we’re already struggling with the Sunday Scaries. I wasn’t prepared, and I admit there were more than a few tears. My dad called and wanted to talk about the news. Wow, big loss for the Patriots, he said, but I could only think about the loss I felt in my heart for never getting to see another Gronk spike live again.
Then other people started to chime in. Edelman posted a picture, Tom Brady chimed in, Robert Kraft made a statement. I don’t know how I’ll hold it together when Belichick is asked about him. @ftbeard_17 fired up the highlight thread machine and even got caught up in the emotion.
All of us across New England, and really everywhere because even if you are someone like say SportsTalkBarry who uses all of your free time to developing content to troll Patriots fans, are sad to see Rob Gronkowski retire. It’s a weird feeling of being happy and sad at the same time. The memories that Gronk has given Patriots fans are enough to start a Gronk porn channel. There might even already be one (if not, there most certainly will be now). He really does have the most electric career highlight reel of all time. You can’t help but watch Gronk stiff arm linebackers and drag defenders on his back and smile. Watching him have that much fun playing football was contagious. When all the other news was around national anthems, deflating footballs, and domestic abuse, the Rob Gronkowski love affair with life and with football is one of the only things that could bring people together.
Rob Gronkowski was drafted in June of 2010, a month after I graduated college. It feels like I grew up with Gronk, and I think a lot of us can identify with that. It is truly the end of an era. I know that when I’m 85 in my rocking chair yelling at random kids as they drive too fast, the Gronk days will be the “glory days” that I refer to. I will take my grandkids to visit the Gronk Spike statue.
Everyone always says enjoy watching it while you can, but no one can explain the feeling of when it comes to an end, especially after only 9 seasons. It feels kind of like losing a family pet. Gronk is America’s golden retriever. We adopted him when he was a rambunctious little puppy and let him loose in his last hoorah in Super Bowl 53. It really was one hell of a ride, and no one will ever replace our Gronk. I will still continue to honor him by wearing his lucky jersey that I have never once washed.
Gronk has always been our constant reminder to never to take anything too seriously, and always stay true to your dumb ass self. If you laugh at the number 69, be the most prolific 69 joke teller of all time. Gronk turned being a meathead into a million dollar brand that allows him to retire comfortably at 30. He spent time his free time marketing himself and giving back to charity. Word on the street is that Gronk never spent a dime of his NFL money and has been living off endorsements only since he started. For someone that is often treated like a wild ogre who can barely speak English, Gronk has made some of the smartest decisions on and off the field of any player ever.
Gronk retiring puts things into perspective. It’s an appetizer round for losing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick someday hopefully in the farthest possible future. It gives those of us with already almost paralyzing anxiety even more. I don’t know how long it will take to get used to not seeing Gronk around the Patriots, and it will certainly be weird without him at next years parade.
Cheers to Gronk on his retirement, and just a subtle reminder that I have about 30 years left…