There’s been speculation among fans and media in the New England area all season that this might be the final year for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
On Monday, Gronkowski, 29, did little to quell that speculation when asked on Super Bowl LIII media day if he plans to retire after the game.
He wasn’t definitive either way, instead playing a game of cat and mouse over the question.
When the retirement question was put to him directly by NFL Network host Michael Irvin, Gronkowski said, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. … I’m thinking all — how to get myself to go full-go in the game, just working on that.”
Gronkowski flirted with the idea of retiring after last year’s Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, not confirming his return until April of last year. Right now, he said, he’s not thinking about it.
“As of right now, those are the last things I’m thinking of. … I love playing the game. After a long season, after the (Super Bowl), a few weeks down the road, you sit back, you relax, you get some downtime, enjoyment time. And you just see where you want to go with it,” Gronkowski said, reported ESPN.
He was asked again but in a different way: Would he like to continue playing football after this season?
“That’s a tricky question. You’re trying to get around me. You’re just trying to get you some answers over there, baby. But, like I said, I don’t know. I haven’t done that sit-down yet. I’ve got to do that sit-down. About two weeks after (the season). Then I’ll know,” said Gronkowski, who will turn 30 in May.
— Al Butler (@ALaboutSports) January 29, 2019
Reporters came at it another way: Can his body still handle the physical stress of playing football? This year his production was down as he battled ankle and back injuries.
“How many more years my body could take? In my opinion? That’s a good question. Many,” he said. “Many, many, many, many years. … There is no number. As much years as I want to go. Yeah, I feel good. But, I mean, if you just work hard enough through the work days, you can keep going.”
Then a reporter asked Gronkowski a question that started with, “As your career is winding down …”
Gronkowski interrupted him in mid-sentence with a question of his own.
“It is?” he said sarcastically. “Ohhhhh.”
Gronkowski is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. In his nine seasons he has 521 receptions, 7,861 yards and 79 touchdown receptions. He ranks 28th all-time in touchdown catches and third among tight ends behind only Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.
He’s been named to the Pro Bowl five times and was named first-team All-Pro four times.
— Landry Locker (@LandryLocker) January 29, 2019
This year his production slipped a bit with 42 receptions, 682 yards and just three touchdowns in 13 games, which matches a career low. Gronkowski had his best game in New England’s 37-31 AFC championship game win over the Kansas City Chiefs with six receptions for 79 yards.
The Patriots are hoping for at least one more night of glory for Gronkowski — if not more.
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