Rob Gronkowski won’t say ‘never’ on return, but not in 2019

Rob Gronkowski won’t say ‘never’ on return, but not in 2019

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Retired New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski hasn’t ruled out a return to football in the future, but he has no plans to do so in 2019.

“I wouldn’t say ‘never coming back,'” Gronkowski told ESPN on Tuesday. “I’m 30 years old. I’m young. I still stay fit, still watch the game whenever I can, still enjoy it. I’m feeling good, but you know, one year off could possibly be the case. Or maybe two years off, man.

“It’s always an option in the back of my head. It’s not like I’m not staying in shape and not doing anything. I’m never stressed over it.”

Gronkowski’s remarks Tuesday morning came after he announced business-based plans to host a Super Bowl party in South Florida, which potentially spiked hopes of Patriots fans that he would return to play for the team this year. If Gronkowski had planned to return this season, he would have to do so by Nov. 30, per NFL rules.

Gronkowski, who retired in March, playfully asked, “What’s better, me playing in the game or me hitting this party?”

The 9-1 Patriots could use Gronkowski, as quarterback Tom Brady expressed his frustration with the offense after Sunday’s 17-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Gronkowski, who says he is having fun in retirement, has been watching his former team closely.

“The defense is just tremendous, the way they’re coming together with the veteran leadership they have there, and the skill set they have. With the offense, they’re finding ways to make it work like they’ve always done, putting guys in the right situation to make plays. But man, they’re missing some guy who is 6-6, 260 [pounds]. They’re missing that guy, for sure,” Gronkowski said with a laugh, referencing himself.

Gronkowski, who once said he never spent a dollar of his football paycheck and instead lived off his endorsements, has capitalized on speculation about his playing future.

He had touted a big announcement Tuesday morning, which turned out to be a Super Bowl party called “Gronk Beach.” As part of the announcement, Gronkowski produced a video that featured two versions of himself — one urging him to return to football, the other promoting the party.

In some ways, the video captured where he is at this point in his life.

“It’s definitely a different chapter, doing a lot of different things, just finding what I really like I do, and finding out things sometimes I don’t like to do,” he said. “It’s definitely interesting because I’ve played football my whole life.

“I have to keep things going, that sports competitiveness going. I love to play backyard games, pickup games, because I still have that competition in me. That’s how I’ve been my whole life, playing sports. Also with the fun aspect, too. Even since I was a little kid — we always hustled, always played sports, but then we would always have a party after, go enjoy ourselves, because that’s what life is all about.”

Gronkowski, who said his best experience at a Super Bowl party came after the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 1, 2015, still feels support from Patriots fans.

“Many of them say they want to see me back on the field, but I take it more deeply to the heart when they tell me they appreciate the nine years with the team and they just want to see me happy and healthy,” he said.

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