Gronk has been worth the return trip

by Gary Shelton on January 1, 2021

in general

Gronkowski has had a worthwhile return./ TIM WIRT

Friday, 4 a.m.

In life, sometimes what you accomplish after you are finished is the most impressive thing.

Take Rob Gronkowski, who walked away. He was finished, battered by the years of playing tight end. He had won three Super Bowls, had made five Pro Bowls and had been All-Pro four times.

But his back hurt, and his knee talked to him, and his forearm ached. So he walked away from the money and trophies.

Until his old pal Tom Brady moved to Tampa Bay.

And Gronkowski moved along with him.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

If Brady's story is about defying age, then Gronk's is about discovering a new age. Against Atlanta on Sunday, he will play in 16 games in a season for the first time since 2011. He has 43 catches, just four shy of his 2018 total. He has seven touchdowns, including three in the last four games.

“The experience has been great," Gronkowski said. "It’s been a fun season. At times, it takes its toll and feels like it’s been going on for a while. Then there’s times where it’s Week 17, you look back and you’re like, ‘Man, time flew. It’s already Week 17. We’re about to play our last game of the season and head to the playoffs next week.’ Overall, it’s been a successful journey so far. It’s been a successful time coming out of retirement and playing this year. It’s definitely been an enjoyable ride this whole year.

I just wanted to be a consistent player throughout the whole year – every week just try and stay steady [and] and stay up there making plays. If I wasn’t really making plays one week, [I wanted to] figure out why I wasn’t, figure out what I did wrong and correct it at practice. Go out there and try to get better week in and week out. I feel like that’s what I’ve just been trying to do every single week, week in and week out. If things don’t go right, if I mess up a play or don’t get a block, we’ll see what I did wrong, get coached on it and go out that week and try to get better at it. I feel like it’s going well and I feel like it has shown too throughout the whole year also – just staying consistent and making plays whenever the ball is thrown to me.”

With the playoffs upcoming, Gronkowski will be someone to turn to in the Bucs' locker room. He and Brady have shared some moments.

“It’s been amazing," Brady said." I’ve known him since he came in the league. He has an incredible work ethic, [he’s] tough, [a] very unselfish player, [a] great teammate and does whatever you ask him to do. I think not only just his skillset as a player – because [he is] one of the few tight ends who can be a dominant blocker in the run game and in the pass protection game, but then also run routes and be a dominant pass catcher, which is very rare for any real tight end – I love playing with the guy.

"He knows how I feel about him. I’ve got a lot of trust and confidence in the biggest moments with him. Sometimes I think about players where if it was the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, who do I want in the game with me? He definitely fits that. That just means in the biggest moments, who do you want out there? When he can deliver like he always has, it’s a great compliment to him and the way that not only I feel about him, but how all his teammates feel about him. Just an incredible player, teammate and everything. I love playing with the guy.”

Gronkowski likes playing with Brady, too.

"As a player, he really hasn’t changed," Gronkowski said of Brady. "From the second I first I met him, he’s been all in – all in with practices, all in at meetings [and] all in trying to get better every single day. It has just totally continued throughout his whole career all the way up to this point. I wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, he’s staying after practice this much longer to get better.’ No, he’s been always staying after practice. He’s been always trying to work with players every practice, or whenever it is, to get better. I would just say that he’s just been so consistent at such a high rate throughout the time I’ve [known] him.”

Mind you, Brady says he's not worried about the playoffs...yet.

“I think I’m focused on this game – I’m not focused on the playoff run," Brady said. "I’m focused on getting ready to beat Atlanta. The best thing we can do is beat Atlanta and play well. It’s going to be a tough task as is and we’ll let [the playoffs] take care of itself when that comes. I’m ready to go out there and try to play a lot better for 60 minutes. I only played 30 minutes last week [and] we only played 30 really good minutes against Atlanta. I’d like to let us see if we can put together 60 great minutes against Atlanta because it’s going to be a tough challenge.”

The Bucs play at 1 p.m. against Atlanta at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.

Previous post:

Next post: