Rob Gronkowski: 'Mindset wasn't there' despite teams' interest

Former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski said Thursday that he never seriously considered a return during the 2022 season, and he views himself as retired.

"This year my mindset wasn't even close to going back out on the field," Gronkowski said. "Even when a couple teams called me, it just wasn't there. The situation was the right situation, but my mindset wasn't there. I feel like my mindset just isn't there, even going into this offseason. I would say it's a very slim chance."

Gronkowski, a four-time Super Bowl champion and member of the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, is viewed as one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the NFL because of his effectiveness as both a blocker and pass catcher. In 11 regular seasons, he totaled 621 receptions for 9,286 yards and 92 touchdowns. He saved some of his best work for the playoffs, playing in 22 games and amassing 93 catches for 1,389 yards and 15 touchdowns.

His remarks came as part of a media tour Thursday in which he was promoting his partnership with USAA, as he is providing Super Bowl LVII tickets to Navy veteran Marc McCabe, who served in the Vietnam War.

With his usual flair, Gronkowski, who will attend the Super Bowl with McCabe and other veterans, made a prediction as to what teams he thinks will be playing in in Glendale, Arizona.

"I got my hometown team, the Buffalo Bills, baby! They are a complete team," said Gronkowski, 33, who was born in Amherst, New York.

"I was not a Buffalo Bills fan when I was playing for the Patriots or the Buccaneers, but I was a Buffalo Bills fan growing up. Now that I am retired, I am going back to my roots. I can feel it.

"I like the Buffalo Bills again; I like cheering for them. I'm not playing anymore, so all that going against them, as a rival, has disappeared. I love the way Josh Allen plays the game as well and I believe they will be facing the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl."

Gronkowski, who spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons with the Bucs after playing for the Patriots from 2010 to 2018, has been serving as a football analyst on Fox Sports, which he said has been an enjoyable part of his post-playing career, along with other business interests. He said fitness also remains a big part of his life, and he's recently picked up the fast-growing sport of pickleball.