Why Rob Gronkowski ended his retirement to play for the Bucs

The former Patriots tight end said he was curious about what it would be like to play somewhere else ... with Tom Brady.
Rob Gronkowski flexes for the camera during his first Bucs photo shoot.
Rob Gronkowski flexes for the camera during his first Bucs photo shoot. [ ]
Published July 17, 2020

TAMPA ― Rob Gronkowski wanted to play football again. It appears he chose the Bucs over the Patriots and Tom Brady over Bill Belichick.

Gronkowski, 31, ended his one-year retirement in April and helped force a trade to Tampa Bay from New England, where he played for nine seasons.

But the Pro Bowl tight end told WEEI radio in Boston that he’s always been curious what it is like to play somewhere other than New England.

Related: Rob Gronkowski hams it up during first Bucs uniform shoot

When Brady signed with the Bucs, it just made the decision easier. He insists it wasn’t a grand plan cooked up between him and Brady to reunite in Tampa Bay.

“No, no, that actually was never the case,‘' Gronkowski told WEEI. “As a player, you always want to see what it is like somewhere else. (I) thought of that before, definitely after playing nine years in the NFL and I also thought about it when I came out of retirement.

“This is an opportunity to go see what it’s like somewhere else, to go see what it’s like in the NFL on another squad. There’s so many players that bounce around on so many different teams. I loved my time in New England, no doubt about it. But it was another opportunity that presented.

”But no, we never really talked about that before,” he continued. “It kind of just happened. (With) my retirement and him hitting free agency, it just kind of lined up like that.‘'

Related: Growing up fearless, growing up Gronkowski

By all accounts, Brady was very influential in Gronkowski ending his retirement, where he was thriving with many off-field ventures, including a TV show on CBS, Game On!

Gronkowski’s father, Gordy, said the family was shocked he returned to the NFL and put a lot of that decision on Brady.

“The bottom line, Rob is back in my opinion because of Tom Brady,” Gordy Gronkowski told the Tampa Bay Times. “I mean, Tom called him, and Tom got in his ear, and I’m sure Rob probably didn’t go out the way he wanted to.”