New England Patriots

TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 07: Rob Gronkowski #87 and Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

Retired for just 13 months, and with a teary-eyed CBD talk in between, tight end Rob Gronkowski seemingly always had plans of stepping back on the football field should the right opportunity present itself. Or, more specifically, should Tom Brady, the only quarterback Gronkowski wanted to catch passes from, ever leave New England for a new adventure.

And when that happened last March, the wheels were set in motion, as Gronkowski revealed following the Bucs’ 31-9 victory over the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

“It was kind of a series of conversations,” the 31-year-old Gronkowski said of Brady’s move to coax him out of a retirement that lasted just 13 months. “It wasn’t anything like, ‘Hey Rob I want you to come back, like, come to Tampa with me.’ It was over a little bit of time. A couple conversations and then free agency hit and I was sitting there like, ‘Hey told me he’s gonna go down to Tampa or another team’ and I was just sitting there. [Then] he hit me up and was like, ‘Would you come down [to Tampa]?’ And I was like, ‘I’ve been waiting for you. I’ve been waiting for you to make a move.’

“It’s just an unbelievable story. There’s a lot more conversations that went down but we’re just going to keep them between us.”

So, to be clear: It sounds like a reunion was always on the table, so long as it wasn’t with the Patriots. Boy, do we feel like bozos for even entertaining every single one of those Gronk teases about “a big announcement.” (I honestly thought I couldn’t feel any dumber than when we fell for it and it was just Gronk talking to us about a big Super Bowl party. I was wrong.)

The idea that Gronkowski was simply waiting for Brady to don a different jersey to come out of retirement is quite a change from Gronk talking about his nightmarish nights in the wake of his final game as a Patriot, and tells a different story than the aforementioned CBD talk where he talked about how he ‘had’ to get away from football because of the abuse on his body. These comments seems to instead indicate that Gronkowski just had to get away from New England, and was willing to do just about everything humanly possible to keep himself busy while Brady ran out the final year of his Patriot run. Oh, and his comments encouraging Tom Brady to test free agency certainly come across in a much different light now.

Gronkowski’s issues — both physical at the time of his retirement and with the Patriots in regards to a potential return — are his own. There’s no denying that he gave the Patriots everything he had (and put his body through hell along the way), and there’s no denying that the Patriots’ attempts to trade him left him unsettled and with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

A chip he took to Tampa (much like Brady), and turned into the fourth Super Bowl championship of his career.

“Just coming down to Tampa Bay, just coming into the Buccaneers organization, they were an organization ready to win,” Gronkowski said of his decision to team up with Brady for yet another title run. “The players here were ready to win, and just to come in and be a small part of it and play my role was just amazing. And just to come here and have [a] situation like this with so many players and be Super Bowl 55 champs is just unreal. It’s surreal, man.”

Gronkowski, who will be a free agent for the first time in his NFL career this offseason, has already said that he wants to ‘remain unretired’ for the 2021 season.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.