Farewell, Gronk. The one good Patriot.

It felt like this was coming for a few seasons now. He seemed to tease at potentially retiring and the injuries were clearly beginning to mount. Gronk wasn’t the inhuman tank he appeared to be for his first few seasons. He was always banged up. Always had something grinding him. Gronk was too beautiful for football and in some ways it is a miracle we had him as long as we did.

He’s obviously a Hall of Famer. I’m actually torn on whether he should be considered the best tight end of all time. I think at his peak he absolutely was. Gronk, when healthy and in full form, was completely and utterly unstoppable. He was one of the single greatest forces of nature I’ve seen play football. He looked like he was built in a lab simply to destroy all these mortal humans around him. The play I always remember is early in this highlight clip, against the Skins. He just drags two defenders for ten yards and breaks free. I think it is fitting that his signature celebration was simply slamming the ball as hard as possible into the turf. Gronk was a fucking monster.

But he was more than that too. He had the hands of a wide receiver and could make acrobatic catches that no sentient tree trunk should be able to pull off. Plus, to top it all off, he was a giant lovable oaf of a man. He didn’t appear to own a shirt. He didn’t appear to have a mean streak in his body until that one time he made the dirty hit against the Bills a couple seasons ago. He was just a big dumb party animal, kind of a peak bro. But he wasn’t even that dumb. I’ve read he took care of his money very well and he’s probably set for life. Gronk is a damn legend.

Gronk is a case of short career, incredible heights. A Gayle Sayers of tight ends. He wasn’t around that long (comparatively speaking) but at his peak was absolutely unquestionably the best. It’s going to be hard to find arguments against him being the best right now because we are all in post-career fawning mode with lots of recency bias, but he still has a solid argument simply for those peak years. I personally put him #2 next to Tony Gonzales. If Gronk had more healthy seasons and more longevity, he would have made that a tougher choice. Tony simply reinvented the position and then played at that peak level for an obscene amount of time. Gronk didn’t really change the position, he was simply such a rare force of nature that he couldn’t be matched and likely wont because physical monsters like him aren’t very common. I don’t think he will ever be topped in that regard.

Even us Patriot haters will miss you, Gronk. You brought fun to the most stuffy team in the sport. You brought smiles to our faces, and I’m honestly glad you got to go out a champion, making one of the few important and amazing plays in that garbage-ass Super Bowl. You shall always be the fiesta.