Ask Rob Gronkowski if he’s retiring, and he’ll answer with a sense of humor.
“Yes, no, maybe so,” the Patriots tight end told reporters Wednesday.
But ask Gronkowski about the physical toll an NFL season can take on a player’s body, and you start to understand why the possibility of him retiring after the Super Bowl is real.
“The season’s a grind. It’s up and down. I’m not going to lie and sit here and say every week is the best,” Gronkowski said, per NBC Sports Boston. “Not at all. You go up, you go down. You can take some serious hits. To tell you the truth, just try and imagine getting hit all the time and trying to be where you want to be every day in life. It’s tough, it’s difficult. To take hits to the thigh, take hits to your head. Abusing your body isn’t what your brain wants. When your body is abused, it can bring down your mood. You’ve got to be able to deal with that, too, throughout the season. You gotta be able to deal with that in the games.
“And no one realizes that, and everyone expects us players to be wide awake every single day, and it’s like, ‘Yo, I just took 50 hits to my head’ — or not to my head, but I’m saying I just took 50 collisions, and then like the next day everyone wants you to be up. They want practice full speed, next week they want the game to be full speed, but they don’t understand sometimes what players are going through with their bodies, with their minds. That’s why I’ve been saying you see a shift in players in games where people are down the whole game, and then you see, all of a sudden, the next week it’s like, ‘How did this team just go from one switch to the other?’”
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There were rumors of the 29-year-old Gronkowski considering retirement after last season — especially if he had been traded — but he came back for more.
“I’ll sit down in the next couple of weeks and see where I’m at,” Gronkowski said a year ago after the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Eagles.
He said this week he will need a couple of weeks of downtime before reaching a decision again.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound threat played in 13 games during the regular season this year, missing some time with ankle and back injuries, but still finished with 47 catches for 682 yards and three touchdowns. He has been lauded for a strong postseason, especially for his run blocking.