Months after winning the Super Bowl, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski on Sunday announced he’s retiring from the NFL.
“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. I will be retiring from the game of football today,” he wrote on Instagram, alongside a shot of himself celebrating the team’s Super Bowl LIII win.
Gronkowski, who will turn 30 on May 14, went on to thank team owner Robert Kraft, 77, and head coach Bill Belichick, 66.
“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,” he continued. “The people I have met, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been [a part] of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity.”
The athlete went on to thank all of his fans for standing by him throughout his career.
“Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been [a part] of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be,” he wrote. “Now its [sic] time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for the rest of my life.”
“It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success,” he continued. “To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be [a part] of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats [sic] next.”
Within minutes, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, 41, replied to the post, writing, “Love u man!!”
“Couldn’t be a better person or teammate!!!!” he added.
RELATED VIDEO: Rob Gronkowski Obviously Snuck Into the White House Press Briefing During the Patriots Visit — Watch
Throughout his nine seasons playing for the Patriots, Gronkowski scored 79 touchdown receptions, according to ESPN.
The three-time Super Bowl Champion also holds numerous records for a tight end, the outlet reported, including having 10 or more touchdown receptions in five seasons.
Ahead of the Super Bowl, Gronkowski danced around the question of whether he was planning to retire, telling the Boston Globe, “Yes, no, maybe so.”
“The season’s a grind. It’s up and down. I’m not going to lie and sit here and say every week is the best,” he added, opening up about the wear and tear to his body. “Not at all. You go up, you go down. You can take some serious hits. To tell you the truth, just try and imagine getting hit all the time and trying to be where you want to be every day in life. It’s tough, it’s difficult. To take hits to the thigh, take hits to your head. Abusing your body isn’t what your brain wants. When your body is abused, it can bring down your mood. You’ve got to be able to deal with that, too, throughout the season. You’ve got to be able to deal with that in the games.”