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Rob Gronkowski is, once again, a former NFL player.

The four-time Super Bowl champion and one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced his second retirement on Tuesday, thanking fans, teammates and coaches on Instagram.

‘I want to thank the whole entire first class Buccaneers organization for an amazing ride, trusting me to come back to play and help build a championship team,’ wrote the legendary tight end. ‘I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field.

‘The friendships and relationships I have made will last forever, and I appreciate every single one of my teammates and coaches for giving everything they had as well. From retirement, back to football and winning another championship and now back to chilling out, thank you to all.’

Gronkowski previously retired as a member of the Patriots in 2018, citing a litany of injuries, but was persuaded to return with Tampa Bay when Brady signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent in 2020.  

Tom Brady #12 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 7, 2021

Tom Brady #12 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 7, 2021

Brady and Gronkowski created one of the most prolific QB-TE connections in NFL history

Brady and Gronkowski created one of the most prolific QB-TE connections in NFL history 

Aside from football, the western New York State native has dabbled in comedy, endorses a number of products, and is frequently seen with his famous girlfriend, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Camille Kostek (right)

Aside from football, the western New York State native has dabbled in comedy, endorses a number of products, and is frequently seen with his famous girlfriend, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Camille Kostek (right) 

Gronkowski’s retirement was met by some skepticism on Tuesday. 

ESPN’s Kimberley Martin tweeted she’ll need to ‘check back in with Gronk in 41 days,’ referencing the start of training camp, when many NFL players get the urge to return to the game.

Even Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, left the door open for another return to football.

‘It would not surprise me if Tom Brady calls him during the season to come back and Rob answers the call,’ Drew Rosenhaus told Schefter. ‘This is just my opinion but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season.’

Gronkowski’s announcement follows Brady’s 40-day retirement and subsequent return to the Buccaneers earlier this spring.

Gronkowski appeared to include some sort of a pirate or buccaneer reference at the end

Gronkowski appeared to include some sort of a pirate or buccaneer reference at the end 

A second-round pick out of Arizona in 2010, Gronkowski went on to be named to five Pro Bowls and four All-Pro First Teams during his tenure in New England, where he won his first four Super Bowls. During that time he accumulated 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. 

Despite battling back injuries in New England, Gronkowski was mostly healthy over two seasons in Tampa, missing only four games and registering 1,205 receiving yards to go with 13 touchdowns. 

He was particularly strong in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl LV win over the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs, catching six passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns. 

Aside from football, the western New York State native has dabbled in comedy, endorses a number of products, and is frequently seen with his famous girlfriend, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Camille Kostek. 

Following Gronkowski’s announcement, Bucs general manager Jason Licht called the tight end a ‘true professional’ in his own statement.  

 ‘He played a crucial part in our Super Bowl LV championship season in 2020 and battled through a number of injuries last year while on the way to one of the most productive receiving yardage seasons in his 11-year career,’ Licht said. ‘It is always difficult to see a great player walk away from the game when he is still enjoying that kind of success, but the overwhelming emotions I feel today are gratitude and respect for one of the greatest tight ends who ever played the game. 

‘While his on-field accomplishments will surely earn him a gold jacket and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is his humble attitude and team-first approach to the game that truly defined his career.’ 

Gronkowski retires with 621 catches for 9,286 yards and 92 touchdowns in the regular season, and another 98 receptions for 1,389 yards and a tight end record of 15 touchdowns in the postseason. 

He is one of four Gronkowski brothers to play in the NFL, along with Glenn, Chris and Dan, all of whom were fullbacks. Their older brother, Gordie, played professional baseball in the minors and several independent leagues. 

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Their great grandfather, Ignatius Gronkowski, was a cyclist who raced at the 1924 Olympics in Paris.  

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