Tom Brady Hints Rob Gronkowski Is Back to Old Self After Leaving Patriots

Brady didn't take a direct shot at the duo's old team, but did say "the real Rob Gronkowski's back"

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski of the Buccaneers celebrate a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys at the beginning of the 2021-2022 season
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski of the Buccaneers celebrate a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.
Julio Aguilar/Getty

Late in the summer of 2019, retired NFL star Rob Gronkowski told a roomful of media members in New York City that he needed to retire from playing pro football because it had taken the joy out of his life.

“I was not in a good place,” an emotional Gronkowski said through tears. “Football was bringing me down and I didn’t like it. I was losing that joy in life. I really was. I was fighting through it. I knew what I signed up for and I knew what I was fighting through. I knew I had to fix myself.”

Months later, the former All-Pro tight end came out of retirement after a season away from the game to join his old Patriot teammate Tom Brady in Tampa Bay to play for the Buccaneers. The conclusion? It wasn’t actually football that was bringing Gronk down — it was having to play it in New England for coach Bill Belichick.

In the debut episode of his new podcast Let’s Go! with longtime sports reporter Jim Gray, Brady tacitly acknowledged that leaving the Patriots was what Gronkowski, who had eight catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ season-opening win against the Dallas Cowboys last Thursday, needed to get his football groove back.

“When I see him play now, the real Rob Gronkowski’s back,” Brady said. “The spirit of him which makes everyone love him as a person, as a teammate, as a player, that spirit that he has in his eyes, about his joy of life, his joy of football is back. When I see him play the other night, that’s his most authentic self. For someone who’s watching him for a long time, he had it, it faded away. He ended up retiring because he didn’t find the joy that he had. To see him regain it is one of the really great, satisfying things for me in pro sports.”

In addition to being able to win at the highest level and have fun doing it, playing for the Bucs has allowed the reigning Super Bowl champs to do things like record their painful Tommy and Gronky online Q&A show. On the first episode of this year’s edition of the show, which dropped today, Brady was asked whether or not he could play until he’s 50 years old. After stumbling around the question, the 44-year-old’s answer was simple: “Yes.”

At this point, we wouldn’t doubt it.

Brady and Gronkowski will make their much-awaited return to Gillette Stadium to face Belichick and the Patriots later this season when the Buccaneers head to New England on October 3 for Sunday Night Football.

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