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Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski announces retirement from NFL after 11 seasons

Rob Gronkowski is, once again, walking away.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end announced Tuesday on Instagram that he will retire from the NFL after 11 seasons and one of the most prolific careers at his position.

“I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field,” Gronkowski wrote in the post.

“The friendships and relationships I have made will last forever, and I appreciate every single one of my teammates and coaches for giving everything they had as well. From retirement, back to football and winning another championship and now back to chilling out, thank you to all. Buccaneers 🏴‍☠️ fans, the Krewe, without you guys, none of this is possible, all of ya brought it every game, thank you for all you do.”

Gronkowski, 33, walks away from the game as one of — if not the best — tight ends in NFL history. He played 11 seasons in the league, nine of which were for the New England Patriots. In 143 regular-season games, he amassed 621 receptions for 9,286 yards and 92 touchdowns. His yardage total ranks fifth in NFL history among tight ends, and his touchdown total ranks third.

Gronkowski was also a huge weapon in the postseason, totaling 98 receptions for 1,389 yards and 15 touchdowns in 22 playoff games. His mark for postseason touchdown catches is second to only Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice’s 22.

A four-time All-Pro selection and five-time Pro Bowler, Gronkowski won four Super Bowls and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.

Gronkowksi has long been one of quarterback Tom Brady’s most trusted targets, building a rapport with Brady in New England before joining him in Tampa Bay for 2020 and 2021. Gronkowski previously announced his retirement from the NFL in March 2019 and went on to skip that season before returning to team up with Brady again.

February 7, 2021: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrate after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.

February 7, 2021: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrate after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.

In Brady and Gronkowski’s first season together in Tampa, the pair helped lead the Buccaneers to a 31-9 victory in Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“In college, I was asked to write about a dream job opportunity that I wanted to pursue and where the location would be,” Gronkowski said in his Instagram post. “Every time I had to write about my future, no matter what, I picked being a professional football player. For that assignment though, we had to pick the location. So I wrote that I wanted to play in Tampa for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for many reasons, the sunny weather being #1.

“I completely forgot about writing this report until 2 years ago when I had the opportunity to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And let me tell ya, the journey in Tampa over the last 2 years has blown away what I originally wrote about in college, big time. And for this, I want to thank the whole entire first class Buccaneers organization for an amazing ride, trusting me to come back to play and help build a championship team.”

Gronkowski made his name at tight end as both an elite receiving threat — in particular inside the red zone — and as a physical, high-effort player who helped open spaces for his teammates in run and pass blocking. He also battled through several significant injuries over the course of his career and became a fan favorite, in part for his fun-loving, infectious spirit on the field and the powerful spikes of the footballs that accentuated the touchdowns he scored.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rob Gronkowski retires from NFL after 11 years with Patriots, Bucs

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