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Reliving Earl Thomas’ incredible hit on Rob Gronkowski

Seattle Seahawks v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement at the age of 29-years-old.

A large reason for Gronkowski’s decision has to be his health. Just look at the injuries he suffered in the NFL:

That 2016 chest lung bruise is a reminder of the abilities of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor at their peaks. The seams were a death-wish; even for Hall of Fame talent. Chancellor ran superbly with Gronkowsi high, and then Thomas punished the tight end with a brutal, yet legal, missiling hit.

Gronk described the shot to

“Yeah, that was a big hit for sure; probably one of the hardest I’ve got hit in my career for sure,” he said. “[It was] by a good player; a good fast player who’s like a missile.”

”It was a good, clean hit; nothing against it. I just took it and it just knocked the wind out of me a little bit, that’s all. If you’ve ever gotten the wind knocked out of you, you know what that feels like. Just down for about a minute or two, it’s a little tough to breath, but once it comes back, you’re good.”

This was elite NFL football. Testament to Gronkowski’s toughness, the tight end returned to the field after missing just 5 plays. He sat out the following week’s clash @ the San Francisco 49ers with the injury but then took to the field in Week 12 against the New York Jets before being shut down for the season.

From a Seahawks perspective, the week 10 31-24 road victory was one of the best moments of the Pete Carroll-John Schneider era. It was a totally unexpected win and Seattle looked comfortable. Somewhat avenging the gut-wrenching Super Bowl XLIX defeat to the Patriots, the Seahawks imposed themselves on one of the NFL’s best teams, Nothing encapsulated that better than Thomas’ thud on the now-retired Gronkowski.