Rob Gronkowski was one of the most dominating tight ends of the decade. He is a three-time Super Bowl winner, five-time Pro Bowler and a four-time first-team All-Pro. Gronkowski started his career with the Patriots when he was drafted back in 2010 from Arizona.
Before retiring last year Gronkowski spent nine seasons with the Patriots, totaling 7,861 receiving yards, 521 receptions, 79 touchdown catches and a 65.6 percent catching rate. It came as a surprise when Gronkowski announced that he would be retiring from the game in 2019.
His decision came when he began to struggle to keep up with the rookies on the team. “It was about two years ago, it was like a game-changer in my life where I was trying to go out to the practices during the summer and I was getting smoked by every rookie” said Gronkowski to CBS Sports. He also suffered from several injuries and began to lose interest in the game, which prompted his decision to walk away from football, CBS Sports reports.
After taking a year off, Gronkowski was able to focus on his health, both mentally and physically. He said that since retiring early last year that he has lost 80 pounds, according to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What triggered Gronkowski to come out of retirement was the news of Tom Brady moving to Tampa Bay. Just less than a month after the Bucs signed Brady, they traded for Gronkowski. It was obvious to everyone that the reason Gronkowski is coming out of retirement was because of Brady.
“It just happened to be the right opportunity down in Tampa” he said to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “Yes, Tom was like the appetizer of the whole meal. He got me hooked when he went down to Tampa.”
Everyone will be waiting for the re-debut of Rob Gronkowski this season. Many will wonder if fans will see the same Gronkowski that they saw in New England. From what we have been seeing from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ preseason practices, Gronkowski is as healthy as ever. Head coach of the Bucs Bruce Arians says that Gronkowski is still in “New England shape”, CBS Sports reports.
What worries fans is that Brady and Gronkowski have been struggling to get on the same page during preseason scrimmages. The Tampa Bay Times reported that during a preseason scrimmage, both Brady and Gronkowski had a hard time getting on the right page, and Gronkowski missed many catches from Brady.
Gronkowski said that this season is like a rookie season all over again and he has to learn and build trust with his teammates. “You’ve got to gain trust of your teammates. You’ve got to gain the respect of your teammates. You’ve got to go out there and learn the system,” said Gronkowski to The Tampa Bay Times.
It is not just Gronkowski who has been struggling during preseason camps. Many other players on the team have been struggling to adjust with Tom Brady as their new quarterback as he learns a new playbook, NBC Sports reports.
Many fantasy football experts predict that Gronkowski will not have a year like he had with New England. Because of his age and history with injuries, the Bucs will try to use O.J Howard, Ronald Jones, Mike Evans and more in the slot instead of Gronkowski, Sports Illustrated reports.
One of the many anticipated games this season will be Tom and Gronkowski’s debut game against the New Orleans Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sep 13. It will be interesting to see how Brady and Gronkowski can fix their preseason woes and be the dominating duo they once were in New England.