According to a report dropped hours before the Patriots and Chargers kicked off at Gillette Stadium, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will once again consider retirement from the NFL at the conclusion of the season.
Given how close he seemed to be towards actually retiring last season, it’s not hard to imagine this being the 29-year-old thought process at this point of his career. Especially after what was perhaps his most mild season, with just 682 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 13 games played, what’s felt like career-lows from a usage rate and average-per-game perspective, and with ankle and back injuries clearly limiting him throughout the season.
But speaking at the podium following Sunday’s 41-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, Gronkowski refused to touch on the distant future, instead focusing on the task at hand and next week.
“I was focused on LA the whole game, and it’s going to be the same thing this week,” Gronkowski successfully deflected after the win. “I’m all-in right now. We’ve got the Kansas City Chiefs now. It’s going to be another week of preparation, and I haven’t thought about anything like that, so just got to go all-in, keep our focus and keep on doing what we’ve got to do.
“I’ve got to keep on doing what I’ve got to do to help this team out to win next week.”
The ‘all in’ line has become a typical one from Gronkowski, who most recently used the term prior to the team’s Week 17 win over the New York Jets, and remained his only comments on the issue following the victory.
But if the report holds any weight, Sunday’s divisional round victory over the Los Angeles Chargers could have been the last time Patriots fans saw No. 87, one of the most dominant tight ends in league history, take the field in uniform.
And if this is indeed the final hurrah for Gronkowski, and in Foxboro, there was no doubt that the rowdy Gillette crowd made him feel the love, erupting and standing to their feet on Gronkowski’s lone catch of the day, a 25-yard grab.
“I always feel the love from the crowd,” Gronkowski said. “I mean, haven’t been having all the reception stuff, but I had one today and you could tell – just definitely great to get the love from them, even on just the one catch, which is super neat.”
They’ll hope that love can translate into some road success, as Gronkowski and the Pats will travel to Kansas City for the AFC Championship Game next week, and that maybe Gronkowski has two more vintage Gronk performances left in the tank.