Article by: Kevin Eagleson
The NFL has lost one of their premier talents, as well as one of their most unique personalities, after star tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement this week. The life-long New England Patriot racked up 521 catches, 7,861 yards, and 79 touchdowns during his 9-year career. Gronkowski was also selected to five pro bowls and will go down as quite possibly the most dominant tight end in NFL history.
“Gronk” quickly made a name for himself after he set the tight end positional record for yards and touchdowns in just his second season in the NFL. At 6’6” 225 lbs., his size, strength, and catch radius separated him from other elite players who held the same position. Not only was he a dominant receiver, but also one of the best blockers to play the position. Without a doubt, Rob Gronkowski was a huge problem for opposing teams, and it is no overstatement to call him one of the most unstoppable forces of his generation. It seemed as if he was always open, no matter who was lined up against him or how much help they had, which in the end made him stand out immensely.
Gronkowski’s playing style ended up taking a toll on his body. His frame made it near impossible to be tackled, causing defensive players to use conventional methods to bring him down. As a result, he battled injuries throughout most of his career and underwent multiple surgeries. Gronk also struggled to stay healthy in other areas too, as he battled knee, ankle, elbow, and forearm injuries throughout his career as well. These injuries would clearly impact Gronkowski’s overall performance, as he clearly could not move the way he could during the beginning of his career. During his final campaign, Gronk showed flashes of what he once was, but he was a shell of his former self. The wear and tear on his body, as well as his mind, proved to be too much, and lead to the future Hall of Famer’s retirement. Gronk in the end, established himself as a force that will always be remembered in the NFL. Most importantly, he will go out on his own terms as a Super Bowl champion.
Rob Gronkowski’s retirement will undoubtedly raise concerns about the New England Patriots this offseason. Once again, it appears they have lost too many key pieces to continue their dynasty for the future. At this point, the Patriots should not be doubted, but losing a player like Gronk is huge. Although he was not quite as productive near the end of his career, his presence on the football field was still crucial. He was a safety net for quarterback Tom Brady to throw to, and one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. He was also someone many opposing teams would pay attention to when the Patriots were in the red-zone. Now that he is gone, and the Patriots left with a giant hole in their offense, and who knows what decisions the organization will make to fill it. After backup Dwayne Allen signed with the Miami Dolphins, and most of the free agents were no longer available, the Patriots are almost forced to look to the draft to find a tight end.
The Patriots, as unfortunate as it may be, will never find another “Gronk”, and it may be a long time until we see a player of his caliber again at the tight end position. The Patriots offense is without a doubt going to look very different, and they will need other players to step up in Gronk’s absence. They will most definitely adapt to their new surroundings and put together an above-average season, something they have certainly accomplished before.
Outside of the team, the NFL and fans everywhere will miss Gronk’s on-field performance, as well as his personality, jokes, and spikes. The football legend certainly has a promising career moving forward, and it will be exciting to see where he ends up next.
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