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(NEW YORK) — Rob Gronkowski is hanging up his cleats after nine seasons in the NFL.
The New England Patriots tight end made the announcement in an Instagram post Sunday.
“It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far,” Gronkowski wrote in the post. “I will be retiring from the game of football today.”
He went on to thank his teammates, fans and the Patriots organization.
“But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success,” Gronkowski said.
A team source told ESPN Gronkowski called Patriots owner Robert Kraft earlier on Sunday to let him know of his plans to leave the game.
In a statement, Kraft commended the tight end for his “hard work, preparation, selfless attitude and the sheer dominance of his game.”
“‘Gronk’ quickly became a fan favorite and the most dominant player at his position for nearly a decade,” Kraft said. “I look forward to honoring him in the near future as both a Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement it was a “pleasure and a privilege to coach Rob Gronkowski the past nine years.”
“From his rookie year until his final season and through countless times in between, Rob was a major reason why we won games and championships,” Belichick said. “His elite combination of size, skill, intelligence, toughness and ability to perform in pressure situations set him apart.”
Gronkowski’s teammate, quarterback Tom Brady, also responded to the news of his retirement, writing in an Instagram post, “What an honor and privilege to play with you these past nine years @gronk! You accomplished so much and our team was almost unbeatable when you were on the field!”
“The NFL was a better place with you in it! But I have no doubt you will be a success in anything you do!!!” Brady added.
Gronkowski, 29, was drafted by New England in 2010 and has spent his entire NFL career with the team. In his nine seasons in the league, he has played in 115 regular-season games, amassing 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns.
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