Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement. But I have some questions.
Before I go any further, allow me to put out this disclaimer: Yes, I do care about Gronkowski’s health. And no, I am not saying he’s a coward for choosing to walk away from the game of football at just 29 years of age.
It’s a disclaimer that has to be made, it seems, in 2019. Questioning an elite professional athlete’s early retirement these days is portrayed as insensitive. So we should all just accept the fact that Gronkowski’s 308-word instagram post tells the whole story. Gronkowski is done. He’ll never play another snap again. And if you happen think otherwise, you’re a disgusting human.
Well, consider me the worst person on the face of the Earth, because I don’t actually believe Gronkowski is done playing football. Not for one second.
And it sounds like his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, doesn’t believe it either.
Doing an interview on ESPN’s “Get Up!” program on Monday, the morning after Gronkowski announced his retirement, Rosenhaus teased a Gronkowski return to the New England Patriots in 2019.
“Listen, I’m just speculating,” said Rosenhaus. “This is nothing that Rob and I talked about, specifically. I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up. Rob Gronkowski is retired, and it’s unlikely that he will ever play football again. However, I did close my conversation with Rob yesterday when he called to tell me he was going to retire, and I said, ‘Rob, just keep in mind, if you ever have a change of heart, you can come back and play. I’m sure the Patriots would welcome you with open arms. If it’s sometime during the season, if it’s late in the year, if you feel good and you want to come back and play, we will make it happen.’
“He’s 29 years old,” added Rosenhaus. “He’s still a very young man. It wouldn’t shock me if he has a change of heart, if he feels great, and he decides that he wants to play football. But this is just me talking.”
Incredible. Gronkowski’s tweet hadn’t even been out there for 24 hours, and his agent was already on the Worldwide Leader, arms crossed, making his public pitch to Bill Belichick for Gronkowski to come out of retirement.
That’s right, I said his “pitch to Bill Belichick.” Because that’s what I believe this is. That’s how I feel about Gronkowski’s early retirement. This is business, taken to a whole new level.
Last offseason, Gronkowski threatened retirement. He teased a move to Hollywood. He leaked rumors of a pro wrestling career. He even did the Ric Flair strut by the Patriots’ locker room inside Gillette Stadium in order to do a Monster Energy press conference while his teammates were taking part in voluntary workouts in April.
Eventually, Rosenhaus and Gronkowski were able to squeeze an extra $4.3 million out of the Patriots with a restructuring of his contract during the summer.
Gronkowski was about to enter the final year of his deal in 2019 with a $9 million base salary. Of course he wants more than that. And he should. He’s proven to be one of the most — if not the most — dangerous weapons in the NFL.
Perhaps Rosenhaus and Gronkowski didn’t get all the money they wanted last year while threatening retirement. So this year, they’re stepping their negotiation game up and actually retiring.
The Patriots responded by playing a negotiation game too. Belichick and Kraft sent out press releases, thanking Gronkowski for all of his incredible contributions.
Bouquets everywhere. Gronkowski retires. Everybody is moving on.
Well, except for Gronkowski’s agent, the mastermind of the whole thing.
“I don’t want to create any unnecessary expectations, but Rob is a very unique personality,” added Rosenhaus on ESPN. “If the team was struggling, or they needed him at some point next year, and let’s just say, hypothetically, Tom Brady gave him a call and said, ‘Rob, I need you,’ I wouldn’t be shocked if he came back to play a few games.”
Neither would I.
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