25 Mar 19
There is little doubt in most people’s minds — and certainly those minds who have any affiliation with the New England sports scene — that Rob Gronkowski is the best and most dominant tight end of all time. His ability to catch the ball in traffic while defenders bounced off him was unparalleled, and his ability as a blocking tight end was among the best in the game. Put them together over his nine-year career, and he’s a lock for Canton. Here is a look at some of the highlights of his football career:
Nov. 15, 2008: A sophomore at the University of Arizona, Gronkowski hauls in 12 catches for 143 yards and a TD against Oregon, his career best in college.
2009: Gronkowski sits out his junior year at Arizona after surgery to repair a bulging disc in his back. Afterward, he declares for the NFL Draft.
Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski responds to questions after he was selected as the by the Patriots in the second round of the NFL football draft at Radio City Music Hall Friday in New York.
April 23, 2010: The Patriots selected Rob Gronkowski in the 2nd round (42nd overall) in the NFL Draft.
Sept. 12, 2010: Gronk made the first catch of his NFL career, and he made it count, hauling in a fade route to the right corner of the end zone for a 1-yard TD strike from Tom Brady. It was he only catch of the game.
YOUNG GUN: Like Randy Moss (left), Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski has a knack for finding the end zone.
Nov. 14, 2010: A pair of firsts for Gronk here. In the first game in which he caught five passes, he also caught three touchdowns for the first time as the Patriots steamrolled Pittsburgh 39-26 in Steel City.
Jan. 2, 2011: In this season finale against the Dolphins, Gronkowski celebrated his first 100-yard receiving game with a pair of touchdowns in a 38-7 rout. Unfortunately, this season concluded without his first playoff win after the Pats were stunned by the Jets in the first game of the playoffs.
Dec. 4, 2011: On his first rushing attempt from scrimmage in a regular-season game, Gronkowski showed his power. He rumbled two yards for a touchdown in a 31-24 win over Indianapolis. It was, in fact, his only rushing attempt in the NFL — ever.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski celebrates with fans after the Patriots won 34-27 in the fourth quarter.
Jan. 14, 2012: In a playoff matchup against the Denver Broncos, Gronk had himself a game. The tight end caught 10 balls for 145 yards and three TDs as Brady, Belichick and co. steamrolled Denver 45-10 in the AFC divisional round. He averaged 14/5 yards per catch in that win. That season, however, ended in heartbreak — a loss to the Giants (again) in the Super Bowl, a game in which Gronk was limited to 2 catches for 26 yards.
June 8, 2012: Gronkowski agreed to a 6-year, $53 million contract which, at the time, was the richest for a tight end in NFL history. It piggybacked on his 4-year entry-level deal and kicked in for the 2013 season.
Nov. 22, 2012: Not one of the happier moments in Gronk’s time with the Pats, this was his first game missed due to an injury. He suffered a broken forearm during a blowout win against the Colts the week before, a 59-24 Pats victory. Gronkowksi came back in the season finale and caught two balls and scored a TD, and tried to go in the playoffs against Houston, but broke the same forearm, shelving him for the rest of the playoffs.
KICK IN THE PAINS: Rob Gronkowski lines up on special teams earlier this year in a game against the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots tight end was injured during a similar play on Sunday. He is expected to miss a few weeks with a broken forearm.
Oct. 20, 2013: Gronk makes his long-awaited return after recovering not only from a broken arm, but also a fractured vertebra diagnosed over the summer. And what a return is was, racking up, 114 yards on 8 catches in a 30-27 loss to the Jets.
Dec. 8, 2013: Injury woes continued. In a 27-26 win over Cleveland, Gronk tore his ACL and MCL, missing nine games. It was also later discovered he’d suffered a concussion on that same play.
Oct. 26, 2014: Gronk returned to the field at the beginning of the season, and even had a 100-yard game in Week 5, but it was this Week Week 8 game in which the real Grink returned. The dominant tight end hauled in 9 catches for 149 yards and three TDs in a 51-23 Patriots win over the Bears. The highlight in this one was a 46-yard catch-and-run from Brady to Gronk.
(Foxboro, MA 10/26/2014) New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski hauls in a first quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady, the 46th such touchdown between the two, in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears Ryan Mundyat Gillette Stadium on Sunday, October 26, 2014. Staff Photo by Matt West.
Feb. 1, 2015: A big first for Gronk — his first ring. In part thanks to Gronkowski’s 6 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown, the Patriots held off the Seattle Seahawks to win their fourth Super Bowl crown, and first in the Gronkowski era.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski kisses the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. The Patriots won 28-24. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Nov. 15, 2015: The longest catch for a TD from scrimmage for Gronk came in this tight game against the New York Giants. The Patriots won 27-26 in a game that included a 76-yard TD catch and run by Gronkowski.
Oct. 16, 2016: Gronk raised the mark for single-game yardage with 162 in a 35-17 win over Cincinnati. He reached that mark on seven catches and caught one for a TD. This was the season highlight, though. Multiple injuries later in November cut his season short. The Pats went on to win the Super Bowl — the greatest comeback in Super Bowl History over the Falcons — with Gronk watching from the sideline.
Oct. 30, 2016: Gronkowski caught his 69th touchdown reception as a Patriots in the second quarter of a game against the Buffalo Bills. It was a 53-yard pass from Tom Brady that launched the All-Pro tight end into the No. 1 position for most touchdown receptions by a Patriots, breaking a tie with wide receiver Stanley Morgan in only his seventh NFL season.
Dec. 17, 2017: In a return from an injury, Gronk played in his 100th regular-season game, and torched the Pittsburgh Steelers for 168 yards on nine catches, though he did not score a TD. The Pats won, 27-24. The 168 yards were a single-game career high.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski hauls in a pass for a two point conversion during the fourth quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday, December 17, 2017.Staff Photo by Nancy Lane
Dec. 9, 2018: The first of several lasts, this was the last time Gronk caught a touchdown pass, the last time he eclipsed 100 yards (107), and also the last time the Patriots used him on defense. He made eight catches on eight targets that day, but was also on the field for the final play of the game, a miraculous hook-and-ladder play from Miami to win what people at the time thought was a negative defining moment of the season.
Feb. 3, 2019: Rob Gronkowski made his final NFL catch, and over-the-shoulder grab on a seam route from Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIII. The catch set up the Pats’ lone touchdown by Sony Michel, and helped lift the team to its third Super Bowl crown with Gronkowski on the roster.
ATLANTA GA. – FEBRUARY 3: New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski makes a diving catch to set up a TD in the middle of 4th quarter of Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3, 2019 in Atlanta, GA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
March 24, 2019: Gronk announced his retirement from the NFL.
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