Heading into Super Bowl LII on Sunday night, there were many NFL fans who wondered if they were about to watch Tom Brady play in his final NFL game. Even though Brady has gone on the record and said he plans to play for a few more seasons—and even though he just won the NFL MVP award—Brady is 40 and on the back nine of his NFL career. So it wouldn’t have been a huge shock if he had come out and said he was retiring after the game.
What was shocking, though, was that it wasn’t Brady talking retirement following the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to the Eagles at Super Bowl LII. Instead, it was Rob Gronkowski contemplating his future. As Gronk licked his wounds after losing the biggest game of the season, the 28-year-old was asked about a tweet Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio sent out on Sunday. It indicated Gronk might call it quits after playing in his third Super Bowl.
To the surprise of many, Gronk didn’t immediately shoot the tweet down. Rather, he said he plans to spend time thinking about his future during the offseason before making any decisions about whether or not he will continue to play football.
"I don’t know how you heard that," Gronkowski said, "but I mean, I’m definitely gonna look at my future. We’ll sit down in the next couple of weeks and see where I’m at."
Gronkowski’s admission was stunning to many, but should we really be that surprised by it? It’s been seven years now since Gronk was able to play in a full NFL season. Since then, he’s sustained injuries to his arm, his knee, his back, and maybe most importantly, his head. He was questionable to even play in Super Bowl LII due to a concussion he sustained in the AFC Championship Game against the Jaguars. And while it was only—er, "only"—the first concussion Gronkowski has ever officially been diagnosed with, it stands to reason that it probably got him to thinking about his long-term health.
Gronk is one of the few NFL players who could conceivably become an even bigger star once he retires from the league. Some have suggested he would be a perfect fit for the WWE and could build his brand there while protecting his body better than he can as an NFL player.
But regardless of what Gronk ultimately decides to do this offseason, it seems apparent that he’s not going to play until he’s 40 like Brady. Hell, he might not even reach 30. And if he does decide to end his career prematurely, it shouldn’t come as a surprise after seeing some of the things he’s endured in past seasons.