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Rob Gronkowski announces his retirement

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

One of the greatest to ever play the tight end position has decided to hang up his cleats.

New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski wrote a lengthy Instagram post confirming that after nine seasons in the NFL, he is retiring at just 29 years old.

“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. “I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine.”

You can read the full statement here.

Gronk’s body has taken an absolute beating, with a laundry list of minor to serious injuries he’s suffered over the year. When healthy — hell, even at 80% healthy — he was a virtually unstoppable freak of nature. He racked up 521 regular season catches for a whopping 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. In postseason play, he had 81 catches for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns across 16 games. Gronk was First-Team All-Pro four times, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, and holds numerous NFL and Patriots records across multiple categories.

The final game of Gronk’s career, assuming he doesn’t walk all of this back, saw him catch six passes for 87 yards, including a critical 4th quarter reception down at the one-yard line to set-up New England’s go-ahead touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams, who only scored three points in the Super Bowl.

From a Seahawks perspective, the 2016 game was the last time the LOB and Gronk were on the field together. Nothing sums up the Hall of Fame talent on display when Earl Thomas could do this to Gronk...

...And then do this at the end of the game.

Enjoy retirement, Gronk!