Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement and won the Super Bowl in his first season back in the NFL.
The former tight end could have easily gone right back home following his fourth Super Bowl title and rode off into the sunset like other NFL legends such as Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis and Michael Strahan – all of whom retired as Super Bowl champions.
But Gronk was committed to a second season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The then-defending champions went 13-4 in the regular season, but eventually lost to the future Super Bowl winners, the Los Angeles Rams, in a thriller – L.A. won on a field goal as time expired.
Gronkowski originally called it a career after the 2018 season, which was his ninth. At the time, Gronk had actually retired as a champion after his New England Patriots defeated the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. It was Gronk’s third championship.
But because of the 2021 season, Gronk’s last NFL game, instead, was a loss. It almost was Tom Brady‘s too – he retired shortly after that game, but that only lasted 40 days. He came back for the 2022 season, but has since retired “for good.” Brady’s last NFL game still remains a loss.
Brady won his seventh and final Super Bowl at age 43 alongside Gronkowski (it was the duo’s fourth together), and no one would have faulted him for hanging it up on top. Who knows how Brady feels now, but Gronkowski can only speak for himself – he has no regrets coming back for one more year, even though it didn’t end how he’d hoped.
“That last year was a special year as well. I love the guys on that team. The teammates, the whole Buccaneers organization… It was a super successful year,” Gronkowski told Fox News Digital.
“I knew I was coming back for that second year in Tampa Bay. I wouldn’t change a thing,” he continued.
Gronkowski even said if he was given the option beforehand, he’d still pick playing for an 11th season.
“If I had the choice to ride off into the sunset as a champion with the Buccaneers after the first year or come back a second year and lose in the playoffs how we did, I would have definitely came back the second year, because I formed so many special relationships with my teammates there, the people in the Buccaneers organization,” Gronkowski said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that that was another special year as well. Even though we didn’t win it all, it was still a successful year.”
It surprised nobody when Gronkowski returned in 2020 and teamed up with Brady in Florida, despite originally winning his final NFL game. But he sure is content with how the ending of his career panned out.