Rob Gronkowski is reportedly returning to the NFL and reuniting with Tom Brady, as the Patriots traded the soon-to-be 31-year-old tight end to Tampa Bay for a fourth-round pick. Gronkowski, one of the best tight ends in NFL history, has not played since the 2018 season.
A three-time Super Bowl champion, can he return to All-Pro – or even Pro Bowl – form?
“He's still in good shape. He looks good,” Tiki Barber said on Tiki & Tierney. “Now getting in football shape is a completely different animal. That being said, he can do it. It’s going to take him a few months, but the good thing is he has a few months to get back in football shape.”
Indeed, Week 1, as of now, is still five months away. Gronkowski has plenty of time to round into shape – at least physically.
“The other side of it, though, is one that’s more important to me to think about,” Barber said. “Football takes a toll on you. Physically it takes a toll on you; emotionally it takes a toll on you; cognitively it takes a toll on you. And one of the issues that Rob thought about when he retired was he had a bunch of concussions. Some of them were diagnosed; a lot of them probably weren’t and he had a bunch of concussions. You get tired of your body getting beat up.
“The other side of that side is it just seemed like it wasn’t fun,” Barber continued, referring to Gronkowski’s final seasons in New England. “We had this conversation about Tom Brady’s desire to do it someplace else. Could it be, that given a funner environment, Rob Gronkowski pushes through the physical and emotional and mental anguish of being a football player and being a target every single time he’s out there? If he was at a fun place, would he have stayed another year or two and played it out?”
We may never know for sure.
“Well, now he gets to explore a ‘funner’ place to go play football with his buddy, Tom Brady,” Barber said. “Even though he’s got his body relaxed and recuperated for a season, can that fire come back?”