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Rob Gronkowski played nine of his 11 NFL seasons with the New England Patriots. That, almost, was not the case.
The 6-foot-6 tight end was a second round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He went on to average nearly 15 yards per play throughout his career with 92 touchdowns in 142 regular season games.
Gronkowski was named a First-Team All-Pro four times, reached five Pro Bowls, led the league in receiving touchdowns in 2011 and won four Super Bowls. It is impossible to imagine that he is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Of the four Super Bowls, three of them were with the Patriots.
The third of three would not have happened if it were up to the organization. New England reached an agreement to trade Gronkowski and a second-round pick to Detroit in exchange for the No. 20 overall draft pick and a second-round pick ahead of the 2018 season.
Gronkowski vetoed the deal — even though he didn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract.
To do so, Rob Gronkowski threatened to retire.
Robert Kraft and the Patriots couldn’t ship him off to the Lions if he wasn’t going to play.
Gronkowski has talked about his trade avoidance in the past and detailed what went into the whole scenario. Retirement was a legitimate option at the time, which made it easy for him to say he was done.
However, immediate reaction to the trade was that Gronkowski didn’t want to play in Michigan. Detroit was terrible at the time and it made a lot of sense that the idea of playing for such an awful organization was not something that one of the greatest tight ends wanted to do to finish out his career.
Gronkowski says that is not what happened. It wasn’t about the Lions. It was about any team that wasn’t the Patriots.
No matter where New England sent Gronkowski, he would have threatened retirement. The 34-year-old, who has since officially retired from the NFL, broke it all down on the most recent episode of ‘The Season with Peter Schraeger.’
In the end, Gronkowski did not retire and he won a third Super Bowl in New England. Bygones were bygones and the Patriots’ legendary tight end only further cemented his legacy.