ATLANTA — For the sake of Super Bowl’s “Opening Night,” Rob Gronkowski should never retire.
The big, goofy Patriots tight end was his usual entertaining self Monday night in front of the media. While teammates and coaches played it straight, Gronkowski joked about his favorite number (69), riding Shaquille O’Neal’s shoulders and attending a local fraternity party on Tuesday.
As for those rumors that he is considering retirement, Gronkowski said he is not sure whether Sunday’s Super Bowl will be his final game.
“As of right now, that’s one of the last things I’m thinking about,” Gronkowski said. “I love playing the game. … A few weeks down the road, you relax, you get some down time, enjoyment time and you just see where you want to go with it.”
Gronkowski was then asked if he wants to play next season.
“That’s a tricky question,” Gronkowski said. “He’s just trying to get some answers over here, baby, but like I said, I don’t know, I haven’t done that sit-down yet. I gotta do that sit-down. About two weeks after.”
Gronkowski was rumored to be considering retirement after last season but opted to come back for another year. He battled injuries again this season, in what has become an ongoing issue for him in recent years. That has led to renewed speculation he might walk away after this year.
What goes into the decision for him?
“I’m not sure,” Gronkowski said. “I haven’t gotten that far. This is a huge week, Super Bowl week. That’s the last thing I’m thinking about.”
On Monday night, he was thinking about having fun.
At the NFL’s “Opening Night,” Gronkowski invites wacky questions. He fielded inquiries about becoming a pro wrestler, a monster truck named after him, the last time he had visited Jamaica and his favorite Southern food (fried chicken).
Then an Emory University student invited him to his fraternity house.
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“What are you guys doing tonight? I have curfew or else I would come,” Gronkowski said.
When the student told him they were having a snow day party Tuesday, Gronkowski lit up.
“Snow day party in the day?” he said. “I might be able to make that one.”
After Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said there is “zero” chance Sunday’s game would be his final game, a reporter asked Gronkowski what number he would say about the chance this is his farewell.
“You guys know my favorite number,” Gronkowski said. “You know what I’m talking about. She knows what number I’m talking about [pointing to a reporter]. Ask her. That’s the answer.”
He then delivered a math problem to a reporter: “I’ll give you a math problem: What’s six times nine plus six plus nine?”
He cracked himself up with that one.
Hall of Famer wide receiver Michael Irvin then walked up onto the riser Gronkowski was on. Irvin’s chest was even with Gronkowski’s head as he pulled Gronkowski in for an embrace.
“Whoa, I’m sorry, man. I’m motorboating you,” Gronkowski said.
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Irvin replied, “We’re on live TV.”
“We’re on live TV?” Gronkowski yelled before bursting into laughter.
Later, a reporter asked Gronkowski to “Gronk Spike” her purse.
“This week they’re only made for games, but I’ll take a picture with it,” Gronkowski said. “Can I keep it?”
Gronkowski also had a message for Jets safety Jamal Adams, who drilled the Patriots mascot last week at the Pro Bowl, allegedly injuring the man inside the “Pat the Patriot” suit.
“I saw that. That wasn’t very nice,” Gronkowski said. “We’re going to have to figure out a way to get revenge. That was not nice what he did. I heard the guy got seriously hurt.”
Yep, the only people who might be rooting for Gronkowski to keep playing more than Patriots fans are reporters who need him to keep things entertaining.