Published 10:41 AM EDT Oct 14, 2019
Six weeks into the 2019 season, the New England Patriots sure look like they could use a pass-catching, play-making tight end.
But quarterback Tom Brady said Monday that he’s not going to lobby one such player, Rob Gronkowski, to come out of retirement and rejoin the team.
“Look, I love that guy,” Brady said during his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio station WEEI. “I’m happy that he’s enjoying his life. He seems to really be doing a lot of great things. He knows how I feel about him. I want what’s best for him. He’s the only person that can make those decisions.”
Gronkowski, who retired in March after nine seasons in the NFL, hasn’t publicly shut the door on an eventual return, explaining in August that he feels physically capable of playing and would rejoin the Patriots if he ever had the desire to play again.
But the 30-year-old has moved on with his life in retirement. He has served as a spokesperson for a company that produces CBD products, and he just recently joined FOX Sports as an NFL analyst. In his appearance before Thursday night’s game between the Patriots and New York Giants, Gronkowski reiterated he would need to be “feeling it big time” in order to return to the NFL.
When asked about Gronkowski on Monday, Brady said on WEEI that he doesn’t “lobby for those things” and is happy for his friend.
“He’s given a hell of a lot to our team already over the course of a long period of time,” Brady said, “and I think people should be very appreciative for what he’s brought to the team and for what he’s brought to the region. Because I think he’s just a very special guy. He’s at a different phase of his life.”
The Patriots are 6-0 since Gronkowski’s retirement, but they have certainly missed him. The two players tasked with replacing him — Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse — have caught a combined nine passes on 15 targets so far. LaCosse also left New England’s most recent win over the New York Giants with a knee injury.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said on NFL Network on Thursday that Gronkowski hasn’t officially filed his retirement papers with the league.
“We can always pray and hope,” Kraft said.
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.