Speaking with reporters on Tuesday morning at a press conference announcing his partnership with a CBD company, Rob Gronkowski did not sound like a man who has completely slammed the door on playing NFL football.
However, Gronkowski did sound like a man who would need some convincing to open that door back up after announcing his retirement earlier this year.
“I needed to recover,” an emotional Gronkowski said. “I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down and I didn’t like it. I was losing that joy in life. I really was. I was fighting through it. I knew what I signed up for and I knew what I was fighting through. I knew I had to fix myself. “
Gronkowski, who missed 29 games due to injury over the course of his nine-year career, talked about what the grind of playing pro football had done to him.
“I had countless injuries and nine surgeries, which took an absolute beating on my body and my soul,” the 30-year-old said. “I was hurt both mentally and physically day in and day out. I decided to walk away from the game. I had to retire.”
A painful quad injury he suffered in Super Bowl LIII helped Gronkowski make up his mind about retiring.
“I got done with the game and I could barely walk,” he said. “I slept five minutes that night. I couldn’t even think. I was in tears in my bed after a Super Bowl victory. It didn’t make that much sense to me. And then, for four weeks, I couldn’t even sleep for more than 20 minutes a night. I was like, ‘Damn, this sucks.’ It didn’t feel good. It was one of the biggest, deepest thigh bruises I’ve ever gotten. I had internal bleeding.”
To treat the injury, Gronkowski had 1,000 milliliters of blood drained out of his leg in the four weeks following New England’s win over the Rams. “I’m telling you, it’s not normal. It was record-breaking at the hospital. You know I like to break records. That’s just a story about what players go through and how it can affect you off the field. It just doesn’t bring joy to your life so I had to take a step back and evaluate where I was.”
If I feel passionate about football again and I feel like I need to be out there on the field, I will go back to football. – Rob Gronkowski
During his retirement, Gronkowski says he has been using CBD products to help deal with the aches and pains he suffered as a player and that process has gone well enough that he’s now “pain-free” and feels he could step on an NFL field and play right now.
“I could play right now if I wanted to play. Hands down,” he said. “I can run fast right now. I’m feeling good. Physically, I could do it.”
In his head, however, Gronkowski is still a ways away from un-retiring.
“Mentally-wise, desire-wise, it’s not there,” he said. “My mind, my soul keeps telling me ‘You need more time off.’ When I feel like my body is top-notch and my soul, my mind, mentally and physically are ready, then I would go back to the NFL … That’s not in the foreseeable future like in a week or a month but maybe down the road. I gotta have that desire, that passion, that fire and I gotta have that sustainability to know that if I go back out there, I can sustain it week in and week out. I’m not gonna go out there and be beat the f*ck up. That’s not the way to live. That’s not the way to play football.”
That said, Gronkowski has clearly not ruled out a return to the Patriots.
“If I have the desire to play football again, if I feel passionate about football again and I feel like I need to be out there on the field, I will go back to football,” Gronkowski said. “As of right now, that’s not the case. It could be the case in six months, two years, three years or three months.”
If he doesn’t return to the NFL, Gronkowski is considering a few more options in WWE …
… and Dancing With the Stars.
Whether he returns to the team or not. Gronk is still toeing the company line for the Patriots when it comes to the benching of Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl.