When Tom Brady retired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past February--before, of course, announcing his return just over a month later--Rob Gronkowski sent him a heartfelt message about their journey together and how he felt about the QB legend.
Gronkowski, of course, has never played a single season without being a teammate of the all-time great Tom Brady. Hence the outpouring of love on his Instagram page:
"Tommy Boy!!! This football journey with you has been nothing short of special.
Thank you for your dedication to the game, putting the team in the best possible position to win every year, all the records that were broken, the Super Bowls, the memories, and your friendship through the last 12 years.
If you commit even just 10% of what you committed to football in whatever you do next, you will be super duper successful. I witnessed greatness for so many years and got to learn from the best to ever do it.
You’re a legend and always will be. Thank you. Much love, Gronky."
Tommy Boy. Gronky. Gronkowski's legendary Tom Brady tribute post will likely be clowned on this upcoming season at a press conference after the two connect in the end zone for the Bucs.
Well, actually, maybe "when" isn't the operative word. Neither is the phrase "will likely be."
We know that Gronkowski wants to return to catching passes for Tom Brady on the Buccaneers. He revealed as much to SBNation's Debbie Emery ahead of his hosting gig for the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards when asked if he'd play for anyone else:
"Not right now, the Buccaneers situation is just too good if I decide to go back and play. Like I said, I love all my teammates there. They are all great teammates and all selfless players. They are there for the team and what’s best for the team and the whole organization. If I do play football again, it’ll be for the Bucs."
But we don't know if he is actually going to be playing. When Emery asked if Gronkowski had started contract negotiations with Tampa Bay, he had the following to say:
"That will start if I decide that I want to play. There’s no reason to do that while there’s a decision to be made first. It’s all about if I decide to."
So the great unknown for the 2022 NFL season down on the west coast of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico is whether or not Tom Brady's favorite target will be back in a Bucs uniform.
Here are 3 reasons why Tom Brady and Buccaneers need Rob Gronkowski for 2022 NFL season
#1 - Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have an unrivaled QB-receiver connection
The fireworks that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have produced together as a QB-TE combo is far greater than any such pair in the history of the sport. So much so, that the duo's exploits are best viewed when put up against the overall top passer/receiver combos overall.
Only Colts legend and one of the greatest ever rivals in Tom Brady's career, Peyton Manning, and his No. 1 option throughout the majority of his time in Indianapolis, Marvin Harrison, have more TD connections (112) than those two.
Amazingly, Tom Brady and the mythical Gronk have 90 touchdown pitch-and-catches throughout their nine years with the Patriots and two with the Buccaneers together. Losing that sure-thing connection--which, even at half-speed like it's been in Tampa, is still sturdy enough to produce a touchdown every other game--will leave a hole in the TB offense.
#2 - Rob Gronkowski is good for Tom Brady's morale
Tom Brady is so hypercompetitive at this stage of his career (after historic success, mind you) that if he feels you aren't doing your job to the best of your abilities as head coach, you shouldn't be coaching Tom Brady. Plain and simple.
A power play to Tampa Bay following bickering with Bill Belichick in the final years of his Patriots career has now seen Bruce Arians step away from the head coach role in order to keep Brady happy. The second coach in three seasons has seen Tom Brady either see it his way or the highway.
Rob Gronkowski is more than just therapeutic for Tom Brady as a target in the passing game. The two have a legitimate friendship that has helped produce four titles together but has also been obvious to anyone that has been watching.
While T-Mobile's ad featuring the pair had Gronk playing the role of persuasion (by accident) to form a Tampa-twosome, it was actually Tom Brady that convinced Gronkowski to join him.
Tampa will have a tougher time keeping Tom Brady happy day-to-day if Gronk isn't there practicing and going to war with him this upcoming season.
#3 - Neither Tom Brady nor Rob Gronkowski may be ready for retirement
When there was talk of the New England Patriots trading Rob Gronkowski to the Detroit Lions in 2019, the TE decided to take his ball and go home instead, retiring abruptly from the NFL.
After missing just one season, Gronk was back in no time, catching passes from Tom Brady just like the good old days. It was clear, in his comeback, that the tight end still had plenty left to offer the sport.
Tom Brady's time away from the league took less than a month and a half, and apparently was never legitimate anyway. The five-time Super Bowl MVP was plotting his exit from Tampa to be a part-owner/player for the Miami Dolphins.
Neither Tom Brady nor Rob Gronkowski want to retire deep down. The charade ought to just be tabled for now, and the six-foot-six, 265-pound titan of a tight end should just return to Tampa, where he belongs.
Poll : Should Rob Gronkowski come back to Tampa for the 2022 NFL season?