Tom Brady was among the numerous NFL players to congratulate his longtime New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammate Rob Gronkowski on a legendary career following the tight end's retirement announcement on Tuesday (June 22).
"Teammate, friend, brother, just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of @gronk," Brady wrote on his social media accounts. "Nobody has ever embodied the idea of “leaving it all out on the field” like Rob has throughout his entire career. Every single snap, I knew that no matter how many people you put in front of him, he was going to get to his spot.
"Even more important is the person he was off the field. Focused when he had to be, and FUN the rest of the time. Having Gronk in your locker room was every NFL players dream. I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished together, and even more excited for all you have ahead of you."
Gronkowski, 32, had previously retired in 2019 following his last Super Bowl victory as a member of the New England Patriots, before coming out of retirement the following offseason and rejoining Brady -- his teammate for his entire career -- after being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers days later.
Longtime former Patriots teammate Julian Edelman shared several photos of himself with Gronkowski, as well as a cartoon version of themselves and a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip with the quote, "If good things lasted forever, would we appreciate how precious they are?"
"There will only ever be one Gronk," Edelman wrote on his social media accounts. "Love you bro. #FoxboroForever"
Numerous other NFL players, coaches, media members and fans shared posts congratulating the legendary tight end on his retirement Tuesday.
Gronkowski officially announced his retirement after 11 NFL seasons in a lengthy Instagram post on Tuesday.
"I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field," Gronkowski wrote on his verified Instagram account on Tuesday (June 21). "The friendships and relationships I have made will last forever, and I appreciate every single one of my teammates and coaches for giving everything they had as well. From retirement, back to football and winning another championship and now back to chilling out, thank you to all."
Gronkowski hadn't previously announced his decision on the 2022 NFL season as he remained a free agent prior to Tuesday's announcement.
"Right now, I'm not ready to get back out on that field," Gronkowski told TMZ Sports on April 5. "I'm not ready to commit to the game of football right now."
In February, Gronkowski said he'd retire if pressured to decide on his NFL future immediately at the time.
"If they're like, 'Rob, you've got to decide right now, right this second if you're playing next year,' I would say 'no' right now, it's two days after the season. I would be like, 'No, I'm not playing,'"" Gronkowski said during an appearance on TMZ Sports on January 25. "It's way too soon, but like, you've got to give it some time, you've got to rest. I would say to see how everything goes, how everything plays out, how I feel. I just want to heal completely, see where my thoughts are from there, then.
"I would say, really, you really start thinking of what you're really going to do in about three, four, five weeks from now, especially in my situation."
That statement came before Brady officially announced his own retirement and eventual unretirement weeks later.
The four-time Super Bowl champion ranks third all-time among NFL tight ends in career touchdown receptions (92), fifth in receiving yards (9,286) and 10th in receptions (621).