FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — The New England Patriots will be without tight end Rob Gronkowski at the start of next season.
The all-pro announced his decision to retire over his official Instagram account Sunday.
In a matter of minutes, the post garnered tens of thousands of likes and comments.
In it, he thanked the Patriots organization, his teammates, fans, Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick.
It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine. Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be apart of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.
Kraft and Belichick both issued statements Sunday night, praising Gronkowski.
“In the nine years that I have known Rob Gronkowski, I have never known him to have a bad day. He always has a youthful exuberance about him and is a joy to be around. As a player, he earned the respect of his coaches and teammates for his hard work, preparation, selfless attitude and the sheer dominance of his game. ‘Gronk’ quickly became a fan favorite and the most dominant player at his position for nearly a decade. I look forward to honoring him in the near future as both a Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer,” Kraft said in his statement.
Gronkowski spent his NFL career with the New England Patriots, a second-round pick in the 2010 draft. He has three Super Bowl Championships with the Patriots.
“Rob will leave an indelible mark on the Patriots organization and the game as among the best, most complete players at his position to ever play,” Belichick said.