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Rob Gronkowski Retires

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement via Instagram on Sunday afternoon.

"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," Gronkowski writes. "I will be retiring from the game of football today. 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. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine."

Gronkowski accumulated 461 DYAR in 2011, the best tight end season on record by nearly 100 DYAR. It was one of six seasons in which he finished first or second among tight ends in DYAR. He was also top-ten in DVOA seven times, leading the league in that category twice.

In more conventional stats, Gronkowski had 79 touchdown receptions in his career. That's the most in the league over that span even though he missed 29 games. He is one of 30 players (and the only tight end) to average 60 yards per game and 15 yards per catch in their careers; five of the others only played in the 1987 strike season.

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105 comments, Last at 03 Apr 2019, 2:32pm

1 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

By far and away the greatest TE the game has ever seen. Please let’s not argue about that point. I was hoping for one more year. We will miss you Gronk.

4 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Seeing as how the career leader in yardage for a TE (Tony Gonzalez) has almost DOUBLE Gronk's total, it's assuredly a debate. Actually, I'm not sure it is. If you are going to lay claim to be the best ever it's really, really hard to only have half the record in a major counting stat like that. Gronk was an exceptionally bright star but burned out far earlier than his HOF TE counterparts.

7 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

At no point in his career was Tony Gonazalez anywhere near as good as Gronk was in his prime. Like, it wasn't even close. Gronk was that much better when he was healthy than anyone else.

Yes, Gonzalez has more career value.

8 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

This bears repeating; Rob Gronkowski circa 2011/2014-2015 has an argument for being the most dominant offensive football player (ex QB's) of all time. You can see it looking at him individually as a complete player, and the effect on his team as he went in and out of the lineup. Tony Gonzalez was never a player like that.

It's deeply unfortunate for football that Gronk really only had three seasons that weren't catastrophically impaired by injury. I can't think of another player/position (except perhaps robo-punter) at which the gap between the best and second best has been as wide as it was when Gronk was healthy - that kind of excellence is why I watch football.

As far as the Pats go I think we already know how they plan to deal with the decline of their passing offense; this is the 03-04 Pats all over again (+rule changes). We'll see whether they can execute that plan after the inevitable rough offseason or not.

31 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I really think you're suffering from recency bias and lack of era compensation when comparing the two. Gronk played in an era *much* more favorable to receiving tight ends. Plus I just think you're forgetting exactly how durable and consistent Gonzalez was:

By DYAR, Gonzalez's ranks were:
16, 36, 2, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 3, 1, 4, 1, 9, 21, 4, 2, 4
By DYAR, Gronkowski's ranks were:
2, 1, 1, 11, 1, 2, 7, 1, 6

"Gronk was that much better when he was healthy"

First, the "healthy" part is a huge knock. *Durability* is even a different thing than *longevity*: Gonzalez had *14 straight 16-game seasons*. He didn't miss games. Period. Not at his peak, not ever. You can't ignore that. Second, Gronkowski played on historically great offenses. Brady had success before Gronkowski, and he's had success without Gronkowski. You can't ignore that, either.

But to me, it's simple - it's the Jerry Rice argument. I can't imagine anyone *not* saying that Rice was the best WR of all time, because it's the total *combination* of all three - peak ability, consistency, and durability. He had them all. Gonzalez did, too, so to me I just can't imagine someone saying that Gonzalez isn't the greatest TE of all time. He had *everything* you wanted in a tight end.

Which I guess makes Gronkowski Terrell Davis, or Randy Moss. Insane peak ability, but without that ability to sustain success over a long period of time for whatever reason.

23 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I think it comes down to how one parses "greatest player" vs "greatest career". Peak Gronk was a better TE than Gonzalez or Sharpe or Gates or any other TE. Gonzalez had a much longer and more productive career.
But does one say that Tom Seaver was a better pitcher than Sandy Koufax? Generally speaking, no. Did he have a better career? Probably, yes. His huge advantage in longevity pushes him ahead (at least in my opinion).

There isn't a single, indisputable, objective way to assign the relative importance of "peak value" vs. "longevity value". Going back to baseball: I certainly wouldn't consider Phil Niekro to have had a better career than Koufax even though he basically had more longevity than anybody (apologies to Satchel Paige).

27 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

understand yoru point btu don;'t like T. Seaver being used to make it. Ther e are arguments for Seaver as a top 10 all time pticher. Peak and longevity was gerat.

If you were to write about J. Palmer, D. Sutton, J. Bunning, T. glavine, ro Bob lemon as comparison, then it works better. Those guys all likely topped Koufax in career value, but Koufax's peak was much better than theirs. For a 5-year strectgh, oufax had maybe best peak. It is almost night and day vs even many Hal of Famers, it is just that Seaver is one of the last Hall of Famers I woudl want to compare Koufax to in that way for prusposes of argument here

34 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Yeah, Seaver was a poor choice. I re-checked his stats after I was posted and, really, the difference between Seaver and Koufax isn't all that big. I only remember Seaver's later years and don't have a gut feeling for how good he was with the Mets.
Palmer would have been a better choice.

28 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I usually weight peak seasons more than longevity, something like 2 to 1 ratio. I think Gonzalez will probably still have the greatest tight end just because his longevity is so far ahead of Gronk.

Put it this way, if you were drafting this player and he was going to a middle-of-the-road franchise, which player would you rather have?

if gronk goes to the Lions he has a career very similar to Calvin Johnson's and nobody's thinking of him as the greatest tight end of all time, even if in terms of absolute ability he's better than anybody who ever came before him.

I think him having a relatively short career and being so injury-prone counts for something. For that reason, i do think Tony Gonzalez is the greatest tight end of all time even if though gronk was the better player in this peak seasons.

32 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I just don't get this "Gonzalez is this workhorse who was around for a while" idea. Gonzalez led all tight ends in DYAR in 6 years, and led all tight ends in receiving yardage in at least that many. He didn't miss a game for 14 straight seasons. Played for *garbage* QBs on totally mediocre teams. Tony Gonzalez led all tight ends in receiving yards while receiving passes from Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle!

Even if you just look at "peak seasons", I mean, in 2011, yeah, Gronk set the (at the time) record for most receiving yards by a tight end, and he was heads-and-shoulders above in DYAR. But Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez were lighting it up that year, too. Brady put up 5000 yards. Teams couldn't focus on Gronkowski because the *entire offense* was great. I mean, Gronk ranked #1 in receiving yards that year - but Hernandez ranked *4th*. When your team has both the #1 and #4 receiving tight ends by yardage in the league, it's fair to say something else might be boosting you other than pure ability.

Compare that to Gonzalez's 2007. Gonzalez was *33%* of that team's offense. The offense was god-awful, except for Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe. And they *still* couldn't stop him.

33 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Fair. I think Gronk's season ending totals are deflated by the fact that he missed a bunch of games. I think if you just asked me who was the more difficult player to defend, I'd say Gronk.

37 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Agree with this: Gronk created matchup problems that even Gonzalez didn't present. Gonzalez didn't abuse safeties in quite the same way (though he would certainly embarrass linebackers just as much.)

39 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"I think if you just asked me who was the more difficult player to defend, I'd say Gronk."

I just can't separate that from the fact that he played his entire career in one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL (and it was one of the most prolific offenses before he got there), *plus* that team also happened to be one of the best in the league, period.

NE passing DVOA, 2009-present: 53.5, 67.5, 55.3, 53.9, 28.2, 35.0, 35.8, 49.6, 47.0, 32.9. Obviously don't know where NE will end up next year (and given Brady's age if there's a major slip most people would tend to assign that to Brady). I'd say you could definitely see the loss of Gronkowski/Hernandez (the first sharp drop) but Brady didn't miss a beat in 2016 without him, either.

Comparatively, KC 1998-2009: 0.1, 37.4, 32.1, 6.0, 17.2, 43.3, 45.1, 42.7, 20.7, -11.2, -4.0. And then after Gonzalez left they were even worse (at -18.9).

I don't want to sound like I'm *knocking* Gronk or anything. It's not a criticism to say that a guy had some of the greatest tight end seasons of all time. But if I want to say some guy's the "best, no question, slam dunk" there shouldn't be any "yeah, buts" there at all. Again, Jerry Rice example.

60 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I agree that it's not a slam dunk, and it 100% depends on how you value longevity. I do think that on any given day/season, every GM/coach would take Gronk over Tony, but I agree with your "who would you draft argument". What would be your answer, out of curiosity?

73 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"depends on how you value longevity."

It's not just longevity! Longevity has its advantages, but obviously Gonzalez's career was so long that from a GM/coach's perspective, the player's going to last longer than them, so it doesn't matter. So there's a limit to how much longevity can matter.

But the key difference there is *durability*. Gonzo didn't miss a game in 14 seasons. That's 14 straight years of 16+ games. Gronk played 16 games *twice* in his career. If I'm a GM/coach and I know Gonzalez is going to be that much more durable than Gronk, of course you'd take Gonzalez. Gronk only played 80% of his games, and started a smaller fraction of that (*some* of those non-starts were just personnel choices, but some were due to them limiting Gronk due to injury - snap counts would quantify that better but obviously don't have them).

Comparing Gronk at his peak and healthy and Gonzalez at his peak and healthy, Gronk'd probably have an advantage due to blocking. I do *not* understand the people thinking that from a receiving ability standpoint there's much of a difference between the two. Gonzalez in the early 2000s was a matchup nightmare as well - go take a look at a highlight reel of Gonzalez and it'll be case after case of "how the heck did he catch that" - and even as late as 2009 Belichick was double-teaming him. Let me say that again: Bill Belichick was *double-teaming a 33-year old tight end*. Obviously players decline at different rates and injury plays a factor, but Gronk is still 4 years away from that!

I'm not even saying Gonzalez was like, the super-best most awesome TE at his peak, either, I'm plenty uncomfortable that Winslow, Ditka, Mackey, Newsome, and several others aren't being mentioned here. Gronk's obviously the most dominant TE in this rules period, but there's just no way that I could say "most dominant ever." Just too hard to compare. But I think part of the problem here is that Gonzalez overlapped with Gronk into the current rules period, so there *was* direct comparison - but it was direct comparison with a *much, much older* Gonzo. That being said I think part of the reason *why* Gonzalez lasted as long as he did is that the rules became easier.

36 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"Played for *garbage* QBs on totally mediocre teams. "
I agree that Huard was no great QB, but Trent Green and Matt Ryan weren't "garbage" QBs. One of his Chiefs teams went 13-3, as did two of his Falcons teams.

" I mean, in 2011, yeah, Gronk set the (at the time) record for most receiving yards by a tight end, and he was heads-and-shoulders above in DYAR. But Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez were lighting it up that year, too. "

Yeah, and Gonzalez played with Roddy White and Julio Jones in Atlanta.

"Compare that to Gonzalez's 2007. Gonzalez was *33%* of that team's offense. The offense was god-awful, except for Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe. And they *still* couldn't stop him."

That team went 4-12. Seems like defenses didn't care much about Gonzalez's yardage because the Chiefs were losing all the time.

It is rare to see a team completely bereft of offensive options. But there will be times when a defense will be quite happy to let one offensive player rack up yardage because nobody else can do anything. That's especially true when the position is "short yardage receiver".

Look, Gonzalez had a great career. He was more durable than Gronk, but he also wasn't a blocker at the same level. He's certainly earned his spot in the "Greatest TE ever" debate. But TE isn't a receiving-only position, and career stats aren't the only stats that matter. Gronk has a lot of rate stats that are superior to Gonzalez, and he's got a postseason record that's unmatched. And he's been the best blocking tight end of the past decade, in addition to consistently being one of the best receiving TEs.

43 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"I agree that Huard was no great QB, but Trent Green and Matt Ryan weren't "garbage" QBs. One of his Chiefs teams went 13-3, as did two of his Falcons teams."

Yeah, of course he did. The point was that Gonzalez produced even when his quarterback was garbage. Gonzalez caught 61% of the passes thrown at him by Tyler Thigpen. We know he's a fantastic receiver not just because of the QB or the coach.

I don't know that about Gronkowski. He's had 10 passes thrown to him by guys not named Tom Brady. He caught half of them.

"It is rare to see a team completely bereft of offensive options. But there will be times when a defense will be quite happy to let one offensive player rack up yardage because nobody else can do anything. That's especially true when the position is "short yardage receiver"."

Sure, but a similar argument applies to a successful team, too: if you've got a hugely dangerous weapon and another weapon that's dangerous but not *that* bad, you'll pick your poison and go with the lesser of two evils. You have to just assume it all evens out in the wash.

The point here is that you *know* that Gonzalez is a great receiving TE, independent of QB, independent of coach. You've got tons of information on that. You *don't* have that for Gronk. I can't say Gronk's 2012 was due to him being the greatest TE of all time because the team around him was psychotically good anyway.

"Look, Gonzalez had a great career. He was more durable than Gronk, but he also wasn't a blocker at the same level."

Sure, if you want to add blocking to the mix, everything gets muddled. Although again, you're mixing durability and longevity: Gonzalez had both, Gronk had neither. Longevity adds the big advantage that it makes it more obvious how much is *the player* and how much is *the team*. Gronk's the Terrell Davis of tight ends.

47 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

This more an anecdote than anything, but Belichick vaporized Gonzo by putting Talib on him, a big physical corner who could run.

The 2015 Broncos threw their whole defense at him and it still didn't work. The only reason NE mustered any offense in that afc title game was because Gronk was Herculean.

51 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Honestly, Belichick being head and shoulders above basically every other coach in terms of adaptation and adjustments *really* makes it super-difficult to understand players in this era. Both on offense *and* on defense.

52 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I think you're mixed up - the only time I believe Gonzalez would have played against Talib in a NE uniform was in 2013, when he posted a career high 149 receiving yards on 12 catches with 2 TDs.

I do believe that at the end of that game Belichick essentially conceded that they couldn't cover Gonzalez and took him out with a punt gunner-style double team in the red zone as the Falcons were driving for a tying score. Atlanta wasn't able to make the numbers advantage on the rest of the field work to get into the end zone.

Funny enough, Gonzalez's second-best receiving performance was also against Belichick's Pats - he went for 147 against them in 2000. There were of course other games over the years where he didn't post big numbers vs. NE, but it definitely wasn't a matter of Belichick or anyone else being able to systematically take him out of the game.

54 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"The point here is that you *know* that Gonzalez is a great receiving TE, independent of QB, independent of coach. You've got tons of information on that. You *don't* have that for Gronk. I can't say Gronk's 2012 was due to him being the greatest TE of all time because the team around him was psychotically good anyway."

Well, there are two ways to compare the value of a QB-receiver combo. One is to look at how the receiver did with various QBs. Another is to look at how other receivers did with the same QB.

There simply is no support for the implied contention that Brady can lift mediocre receivers to a high level. Like most QBs, Brady's stats vary with the quality of his receiver corps. And it's indisputable that Gronk has been one of the most productive receivers in that corps. Were it easy for TEs to be productive with Brady, Belichick wouldn't have had to literally spend 10 years drafting a large number of TEs until he finally found one who could play at an all-Pro level.

Christian Fauria? Ben Watson? Daniel Graham?

74 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"There simply is no support for the implied contention that Brady can lift mediocre receivers to a high level."

Do you think I was implying that Gronk is a mediocre receiver? What part of me calling him one of the all-time great TEs would imply that? I implied that Brady lifts *good-to-elite* receivers to a higher level. If a guy can't catch, he can't catch. But if he *can* catch anything, then the finer details - like ball placement - take a good receiver and make them great, take a great receiver and make them elite, and take an elite receiver and make them epic. Gonzalez's comments about his workout with Brady make it obvious that he hadn't ever worked with a QB at that level.

But it's even simpler than that. A quarterback that can't read defenses can't even make a throw for someone to catch. A quarterback that can't throw the ball accurately at all is obviously going to depress your statistics. Gronk *never* had that, so of course he's going to consistently put fear in you. No one worried about Gonzalez when Tyler Thigpen was throwing to him.

77 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I guess another way to think about it: If we knew that Gronkowski could have played longer (and avoided injury), but played not quite as effectively if he had turned his intensity down to 75%, would the Patriots (and their fans) want him to do that?

42 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I think the better comparison would Pedro Martinez vs. Greg Maddux.

Pedro had the highest peak of any pitcher in history, but like Gronk, he struggled with injuries throughout his career. Maddux, like Gonzo, also had a very high high peak but it wasn't quite as high as Pedro. However, Maddux and Gonzales also an extremely long and durable careers which set them apart from Pedro and Gronk.

53 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I really like this comp - because peak Maddux was probably 90-95% as good as peak Pedro.

Peak Gonzalez was incredible as well - but probably not as good as peak Gronk.

Honestly, if you poll most baseball analysts, they would probably have Maddux ahead of Pedro as an all time pitcher.

2 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

That's a big hit despite the fall-off in his play last season. The loss of a TE who can block and receive at Gronk's level removes a great deal of flexibility from the Pats' schemes. I imagine they were patient with the decision because they didn't want to risk pushing him away. (Pats conspiracy theory: they didn't want him to announce it until after free agency to prevent other teams getting a read on their acquisition needs).
It does help with the Pats salary cap issues (although the Gilmore restructure did as well). Going to be an interesting draft for them; besides Edelman, the receiving depth...wait, Edelman is the receiving depth.

14 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

If they did wait to announce it, it hurt them. Word is that they were heavily courting Jared Cook, and he ultimately chose New Orleans instead because he knew he would be the #1 TE there, and was worried about playing second fiddle to Gronk in NE.

19 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

They also released Dwayne Allen. Who knows though, Belichick works in mysterious ways.
Good TE draft class this year, at least. I wonder if this is one of those rare times we'll see the Pats trade up, which they'd probably have to do to get one of Hockenson or Fant.
With Gronk's 9.2 million hit off the books, the Pats more than doubled their cap space so there's money to play with there.

24 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

The Patriots didn't wait. The timing was Gronk's. He didn't tell the Patriots until yesterday.

I think the Patriots had been getting impatient, but they knew that pressuring Gronk would only make retirement more likely. And though he didn't make the announcement before the opening of free agency (which the team would have preferred), he did do so before the draft. The delay may have hurt the Pats' ability to recruit Jared Cook, but so be it. I think Gronk has earned at least that much from the Pats, after being paid a TE scale despite being more productive than most WRs.

3 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Man, it's pretty crazy how much variation there is in the length of careers for NFL players. Gronk hangs it up at age 29 while his 41-year old QB teammate is still going.

6 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

To be fair, none of these other guys were drafted with a chronic back injury. Chronic back injuries SUCK.

The Patriots got a ton of value for a second round pick that was a huge gamble ( as opposed to the 6000 Terrence Wheatleys they've drafted). It sucks to see him retire so early after how overwhelmingly dominant he was when healthy. Just 9 years and he holds pretty much every TE record that matters - and that ignores the fact that he was absolutely dominant as a blocker, and most of the guys in the record books around him weren't. Football is noticeably worse when he's not playing it.

On the other hand - its awesome to see a player retire who has been smart about his money, and who may still have a functioning brain and body in a couple years.

13 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

With second round picks you have two choices. You can take a player that has top of first round talent but has some kind of red flag and therefore slipped (either injury or off-field issues), or you can take a player that is good and "safe" but clearly not top end (and hence they were around in the 2nd round).

The Pats, like all teams, do both of course, but they have made quite a few picks in the first category.

In a sense, taking Gronk wasn't a huge gamble, because they also took Hernandez that same year at the same position in the same round. Both Gronk and Hernandez had amazing athletic skills and had the potential to be a game-changing player, and both had big red flags that accounted for them slipping into the 2nd. Gronk's was his health, and Hernandez were his off filed issues. If both player's success is a 50-50 proposition, then you have a 50% chance that at least one of your second round picks at the position will net you the equivalent of a high first round pick, and a 25% chance you'll end up with two shop shelf talents, and just a 25% chance that both will flame out.

Obviously, the Pats ended up with the first outcome.

25 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Now I wish you could explain this to all the Pats' fans who whine about Belichick's drafting. Belichick has the luxury of pursuing a high variance strategy in the draft, since he never really needs to stockpile the roster with a lot of mid-level talent. Even back in 2000 he had inherited a good amount of talent from the Parcells/Carroll years.

(Nitpick: AH was taken in the same draft, but in the 4th round. Where Gronk dropped because of the back issues, AH dropped because of concerns about "off-the-field" issues, concerns that turned out to have been warranted.)

29 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

The other thing to bare in mind when discussing draft strategy is expected return; A lot of people look at AH as an example of a high-risk failure, but when looked at on it's face the opposite seems to be true. How many players drafted in the 4th round (114th overall) contribute 2.5 seasons of elite football (or equivalent) at rookie wages - almost none. Moral of the story: AH, bad man, great draft choice. BB getting panned for the draft is really just about fans that don't understand how football teams win/lose - these are the same people who thought the Buffalo Bills were "brilliant" or "bold" to trade up and pick Sammy Watkins because if there's anything that the history of the NFL proves it's that #1 WR's are what makes championship football teams, it's not like the Bills had any other holes on the roster that two additional picks (including another 1st rounder) could have helped them address **sarcasm alert**.

66 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

That said, drafting is significantly easier when you don't have to worry about what to do at QB. Also, it's much easier when you have the coaching staff to get the best out of mid-level NFL talent. Most teams have to do some digging for high-end talent by necessity.

67 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I disagree. Once you have an established qb, excuse making from the draft becomes much harder. See the packers or Bill Polian in the latter years. In terms of the blame game, its usually a three slice pie - gm, head coach, and qb. If qb is unassailable, its between you and the coach.

Furthermore, a good effective qb means you usually never get really great draft picks, which means you never a get a chance at a Miles Garett, Calvin Johnson, or Jalen Ramsay.

72 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Excuse making and scapegoating has nothing to do with actually making draft decisions. These are all adults tasked with trying to win football games. If they can't get on the same page, then that's an institutional failure. I don't know how you can believe that being set at the most important position is somehow a bad thing during roster construction.

You're underscoring my point. Yes, good teams are rarely in position to acquire high-end talent. That's why only the very best of them are able to compete year in, year out without a lot of high draft picks. The average NFL team doesn't have the type of coaching that can win consistently with mid-tier players, hence why they take chances in the draft by trading up on occasion.

9 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

And to think his fellow Pats TE from that draft class, despite also having exceptional talent, only lasted 3 seasons before getting himself arrested and released, and then was only alive for 4 years after that.

11 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Huh. One of the Pats' more reliable beat writers (Mike Reiss) says NE was "shocked" by the retirement announcement. Sorta hard to believe.

38 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I don't believe "shocked". I believe "chagrined that he took so long to decide" but it seemed obvious to me that Gronk was going to retire this off-season. Certainly Belichick is at least as aware of what's going on with his team as a casual fan is.

12 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

If it comes down to "how good they were in their prime/at their peak" then Ditka, Mackey and Casper all have argments, too. Maybe also Winslow, though he wasn't as good a blocker as the others.

Some may scoff, but what about Mark Bavaro? Peak/prime was probably too short, but he was a beast for about three years.

40 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Bavaro's peak was veryshort. He's not even in the conversation.

Ozzie's peak was longer, but he's really not at the top level. Only one season as All-Pro. He's had a better career as GM, IMO. His work as the Ravens' GM is very impressive.

49 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

He always reminded me of Bavaro. Both guys bodies broke down from the style they played. He was better than Bavaro, though. It's going to be interesting to see how the Pats handle this. He really made them much more effective in the passing game and running game. Then again, their division is terrible to an absurd degree.

15 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

His career length will probably prohibit any talk about the greatest tight end of all time. But for my money he's on a short list of the greatest football players that ever played the game. At his Apex there really wasn't a defense that could really take him away. He was way too big for corners and far too fast and nimble for linebackers and safeties. HIs blocking prowess meant that Ne never had to make play calling sacrifices to accommodate his game. There's a reason Buffalo stayed in their nickel personnel even as they were getting destroyed on the ground for over 200 yards

A totally rare football player. There are a select group of Hall of famers who in their primes could totally transcend the sport in a way no other peer could.

My shortlist for the last 20 years: gronk, Moss, Aaron Donald, JJ Watt, Revis, Ed Reed, Marshall faulk, and maybe a few others that I'm forgetting. I would probably throw Calvin Johnson in there too.

20 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Randy Moss! But in those peak seasons I think Gronkowski did it more regularly than most of the people on this (already very short) list.

As an NFL watcher through peak Gates and peak Gonzalez, I would rate him above them. Obviously you can have a debate about longevity - but he scared people like nobody else.

35 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"Obviously you can have a debate about longevity - but he scared people like nobody else."

Yeah, that's because he had Tom Brady throwing to him and Belichick coaching him. I'm not saying Gronk wasn't one of the best tight ends of all time, but it's the *combination* of "one of the best tight ends + one of the best quarterbacks + one of the best coaches" that scared people like crazy. I mean, you trade

Gonzalez could've been the best tight end ever, but no one's going to be scared of him when he's getting passes from *Tyler Thigpen*. Seriously, Tyler Thigpen! How did Gonzalez lead all tight ends in DYAR, yardage, TDs, and completions when his quarterback was *Tyler Thigpen*??

41 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Gonzalez had a lot of seasons with very good QBs. He only had one with Tyler Thigpen.

And the Patriots have had a lot of mediocre seasons from receivers, in spite of having Brady at QB. The only people who I think really expanded the offense during the Brady era were Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, and maybe the best years of Welker and/or Edelman. But only Moss and Gronk brought the fear factor. None of the other guys could embarrass the defense the way that Moss and Gronk could. Moss could do it by just running past people or making impossible catches in traffic. Gronk would do it also by making impossible catches, or racking up yard after yard with safeties and corners draped on his back.

46 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Of course Moss and Gronk struck fear into other teams, and could embarrass anyone. They were catching passes from Brady, and they were being used by Belichick. Welker and Moss make that so ridiculously obvious, as both went from being jokes or has-beens to "oh my God how do we deal with this player." That's not to say *every* WR becomes a superstar on New England. The best just go to another level, which is the point.

I don't think *anyone* would disagree with the sentiment that "Belichick is the best in the league at using a player in the absolute best way," would they? And that *has* to color your opinion of Gronkowski relative to other tight ends in the league. Just like I didn't think Moss was heads-and-shoulders above all other WRs in the league, either. Just a combination of two elite players and an elite coach. It wasn't a "we just need to make sure we tackle Rob Gronkowski" situation. Teams were basically screwed, and that's what brought the fear.

50 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I'd rank Rice best overall and best at creating separation downfield, while Moss was best at catching the ball in traffic. Of course, each of them were also excellent in the other's GOAT act. Switching back to Gronk, in Barnwell's ESPN "HOF" article, he noted that Gronk could be an extra WR or 6th OL on any play, and defenses found it nearly impossible to account for both. The Pats' TD drive last month was a good illustration. They went to 22 personnel and DC Phillips chose to remain in the base package to guard against the run, at which point the Pats ate them up. With the other great pass-catching TEs, probably the nickel comes out and maybe things turn out differently. Gronk may not be either the greatest blocking TE ever (must be close), nor the greatest pass-catching TE, but at his peak likely the best combo of the two.

57 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"Just like I didn't think Moss was heads-and-shoulders above all other WRs in the league, either. "


Who was his peer at the time? There were maybe 2-3 WRs who played at a comparable level. There have been many Hall of Famers who didn't.
Does anybody think Marvin Harrison was as talented as Moss? Or Isaac Bruce/Torry Holt?
I'd say yes to Calvin Johnson. Probably yes to Larry Fitzgerald. I'd say TO was a notch lower.

Of course there was Moss and there was Moss. Lazy Moss (for example, on the Raiders) was entirely forgettable.

58 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Non lazy Moss is the most impactful non QB in NFL history imo. His mere presence completely altered how you played defense. You could not scheme him away and there wasn't a DB alive who could match his speed and leaping ability. Calvin was arguably a more athletic receiver in terms of size and speed, but not in terms of leaping, which is what made him so dangerous on deep throws.

When you are scary at the scariest thing for a defense to face, it completely alters the scheme. No other receiver could do that.

But Moss was lazy and selfish and that's why I don't consider him the greatest receiver of all-time nor am I fan of his in general.

62 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

The problem here is moss always wears out his welcome within some time frame. And given that his coach is Bill belichick, I'm not sure it would have been any different at any point in moss' career. Moss was always all about moss, which is why I've never understood how he gets universally a pass for being a bad teammate while TO gets roasted over and over.

Moss was blessed with football IQ and football agility that mere mortals could only dream about. To a man every single person who has ever met Moss has left with wonderment and awe. You just get the sense that he coasted on those abilities because even with 50% effort he was better than everybody else.

64 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Well, even if the only thing you change is to allow Brady to stay healthy in 2008, that probably gives him another 4300 yards and 40 TDs, if not more. They were just so much fun to watch together that I would have liked to have seen Moss have a longer career in New England. I agree with you that he would have worn out his welcome eventually.

79 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Moss's fundamental "character flaw" was that he didn't like football very much, I think. That's not an ideal quality in an employee or teammate, but I find it a lot more sympathetic than TO's seeming aggressive douchiness towards his colleagues.

89 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I think you are right. Moss loved making a lot of money (this is not meant as criticism), loved the crowd cheering when he scored a td, but the hame itself wasn't all that enjoyable to him. This is in contrast to somebody like Cris Carter, who wasn't nearly as talented, but loved every aspect of the job.

Owens treatment of his teammates was lot more problematic than Moss' approach to his job.

94 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Moss was also a media distraction, though less of a locker room disaster than TO was. I found both players similarly selfish, though TO was far more professional on the field than Moss was.

Moss is a mercenary, TO was a malcontent.

75 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"I'd say yes to Calvin Johnson. Probably yes to Larry Fitzgerald. I'd say TO was a notch lower."

Yeah, I'd disagree there. Moss and TO were different types of receivers, though. Both had fantastic concentration/catch ability, Moss was faster, Owens was stronger. There are tons of plays where a defender literally has TO in his grasp, and can't pull him down, and then Owens just flat out goes *through* multiple defenders rather than running around them. If you ask a coach which one they'd want, they'd probably say "both." Although to be fair, you don't see Moss fighting through defenders for extra yardage because he was typically in the end zone.

But overall TO was absolutely Moss's peer. In terms of raw production they're pretty much equal: PFR's AV has them essentially identical, for instance. I get that there's also something more "impressive" about seeing a guy just blow by defenders and be completely uncatchable. You look at that and think "there's no way to stop that." Whereas with Owens a lot of times, you see him fight through a tackle and you're like "oh, if that guy could've just tackled him right!" The strength of a receiver isn't quite as visually striking.

"Of course there was Moss and there was Moss. Lazy Moss (for example, on the Raiders) was entirely forgettable."

I've never been a fan of that characterization. Moss had an okay season in 2005 with the Raiders, but the team just wasn't good. I don't blame Moss at all for not trying hard in 2006. His quarterback was Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks. I'm not sure either of them could've thrown *far* enough if he tried hard. Blaming a speed receiver for taking plays off is a bit nuts.

76 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I stand by my original point. Moss was more dangerous at the thing defenses feared the most. That has ripple effects that no other receiver brought.

Moss also hot dogged it in Minnesota. And fair or not, he was being paid handsomely by the Raiders. Just because the team was moribund doesn't give an excuse to just loaf off.

80 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"I stand by my original point. Moss was more dangerous at the thing defenses feared the most. That has ripple effects that no other receiver brought."

... Huh? Why is "speed" the thing defenses fear the most? A quarterback who barely has time to throw can't hit a deep receiver, which is *exactly* what the Giants did in SB XLII, which is why Moss said "the Giants' game plan was if the Patriots are going to try to get the ball deep to Moss, we're going to make them pay for it. And if they do get it off, he's going to get hit." And Moss ended up with a catch rate well below 50%. An intermediate receiver who can't be tackled easily can be just as hard for a team to deal with.

The overall statistics for Moss and Owens were really close, and they both had similar career circumstances (and similar "dedication" to the team), and they both boosted their teams pretty equally.

The one thing that's often hard to remember regarding Moss/Owens is that while Owens only came into the league 2 years before Moss, he was already 2 years *older* at the time. So their "peak" years are actually about 4 years off from each other: Owens was more in his prime in the latter portion of his 49ers career, whereas Moss's prime was the end of Minnesota/beginning of New England years. (You could argue Moss's statistics are depressed a bit more because of that, but Owens's prime was similarly cut by the drama in SF/PHI as well). So it's important not to think of comparing Moss and Owens *in the same season*.

Of course, Owens was far and away a better run blocker (and adaptable receiver) than Moss anyway, so there's that part as well.

84 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

It's not solely speed. It's his speed plus leaping ability, otherwise he'd be desean Jackson. Actually, he was also very smart in how he ran his deep routes. Ok so a complete incompetent QB will render moss useless, but that's true for any receiver so it gets us nowhere.

Look I watched both in their primes a ton. To belongs on a short list of the greatest wide receivers of all time. Moss was just better. Am I the only one who thinks so?

86 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Owens also had pretty incredible leaping ability as well - I really don't see that as being much of a difference between the two.

I'm not saying Owens is better. I'm saying it doesn't make sense to rank the two, as they're just different. If you asked Moss to do the things Owens was asked to do, he'd suck at it, and vice versa. The idea that Owens didn't change the way that defenses played a team is absolutely insane. Teams barely played press coverage against Owens's teams, as he was just flat *stronger* than most DBs, and for the most part Cover-2 was just an invitation for Owens to eat the team alive (there's an entire article by MDS on FO about this). It's like asking who's better, Gronkowski or Moss.

It's just a silly comparison, they're asked to do different things. Which again also brings up Owens's monumental advantage in run blocking as well (again, well covered by MDS on FO). But with the Vikings, for instance, you almost never saw Moss actually on the line of scrimmage (MDS quantified it as he was off the line *five times as often*), and the reason why the Patriots worked so insanely well in 2007 is that they had two completely complementary receivers in Welker and Moss.

You might also guess that I'd suggest that neither is the "best WR ever" because neither of them did everything perfect and there *were* ways to limit both of them - that doesn't mean "stop" nor does it mean that a team would magically win if they did it, nor does it mean every team could do it, nor could a team manage it every play, but you could go into a game with a game plan that could manage them. With Moss you needed to jam him to disrupt the timing and then get to the quarterback before he can get open deep. With Owens you just keep with him step for step, stick with him, and make the tackle. Both are easier said than done.

Now, granted, you might say Moss is more valuable because especially by the end of Moss's career, Cover-2/Tampa-2 type defenses were really in decline, and so a receiver like Moss is more valuable than Owens. Which is absolutely true, but it's just a product of the era, which again makes comparing them silly.

88 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

When I rank the two, I'm thinking in terms of which player a defensive coordinator would rather not face. Yes, I agree, there are confounding variables to that question. If its a run heavy scheme with a noodle armed passer - To wins by a mile. If its a mike martz led deep passing team, Moss wins.

That's the fun of rankings - you play the permutation game and make your own subjective weights. Even with all of the strengths To had, I found Moss brought an extra dimension beyond To - akin to Steph Curry's gravity(as was mentioned above). That was the crux of my argument.

We can debate if that overcomes To's superior ability to shed press man and his run blocking ability - as I think it does. Its also not a coincidence to see a massive spike in Brady's numbers when Moss was there. It's also not an accident that Moss was on two of the top 5 highest scoring offenses in NFL history. If anything, the only other receivers who could bridge the gap between Moss' gravity by doing other things better were Rice and maybe Calvin Johnson. Gun to my head, I'd rather have Rice because he tried harder more consistently. But if I was assured non-malcontented Moss, I'd rather have Moss.

I also enjoy ranking non-qb players at different positions against one another because its fun and NFL gms have to do this all the time when making draft and free agent decisions.

90 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I'm not unbiased, but if I'm transported back to 1998, and told I have to pick a receiver whose performance over the next 5 years carries my life in the balance, I'm picking Moss. Of course, that was the Moss who was pissed off about not getting picked until the 2nd half of the 1st round.

91 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

" Gun to my head, I'd rather have Rice because he tried harder more consistently. But if I was assured non-malcontented Moss, I'd rather have Moss."


OK, now you've really, really lost me. I don't care what version of Moss you give me, there's no way I'm picking Moss over Rice at his peak. Moss's best two years he had Cris Carter and Wes Welker. You can't ignore that. Who did other teams have to cover in 1995? JJ Stokes?? He didn't even have Steve Young the entire season and *still* put up 1800+ yards.

I just... I can't even comprehend that statement. Rice was *undefendable*. There just wasn't anything you could do. He got open against *everyone* in his prime. He played in 3 Super Bowls, with 2 separate quarterbacks, and averaged *170 yards*. In the Super Bowl! Literally the most important game of the season! Two weeks to prepare! And Rice still burned them.

Moss's the best deep receiver in NFL history, no doubt. And maybe you prefer that to a mid-range receiver like TO, fine. But Rice was a deep receiver, middle receiver, short receiver, whatever the hell you want receiver. You weren't taking him out of the game no matter what the hell you did.

93 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I regard Rice as the greatest football player who ever lived. He was everything you described. Part of my statement is really just a discussion on what Moss' career might have been had he had the maniacal work ethic that Rice had. I think Moss was a more physically talented receiver than Rice(something Rice himself conceded). Yes Rice was a far better route runner, had better hands, and just a more polished player in general. You don't get to be the goat if you aren't freakin amazing. This is just a hypothetical thing I'm entertaining.

96 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

If "greatest football player [ever]" is judged by distance above his peers, I'd pick 3 - Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Jerry Rice. I grew up in the Jim Brown era, so there's some bias there, but even so I can't decide which of the 3 is #1.

97 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Why is LT so far ahead of his peers? If we are talking pass rushers, Reggie White, Bruce Smith, and Deacon Jones were all pretty special. I think Derrick Thomas is probably in the back of the conversation somewhere.

104 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Thomas was in the same class as LT, doing it as a LB, but only for a short time. Peak LT could warp the opposing offense as much or more as did any defender (or so I've read - no claims here of being an NFL savant.)

105 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

"Part of my statement is really just a discussion on what Moss' career might have been had he had the maniacal work ethic that Rice had. I think Moss was a more physically talented receiver than Rice(something Rice himself conceded)."

I think the disagreement there is what "physically talented" means. Most people just take it to mean "speed" or "strength," but I don't think that's anywhere near right, and I think even football players get this wrong sometimes. The biggest advantage that Rice had was that he was as fluid as water and as precise as a scalpel: he could cut at any given point, and a defender wouldn't have a clue when it was coming. So he could literally tailor his stride, his cuts, his routes differently against every single corner. Which, if you've ever heard him describe different corners, is exactly what he did. He was like an executioner: he knew exactly what you could and couldn't do, and could become what you couldn't handle any game he wanted.

From Rice's point of view that probably looks like hard work, but I don't entirely agree - there's only a certain body type and build that can adapt like that. Moss, for instance, had a long gait, which means there's no way he could adapt his route running as easily as Rice did. SI's Vault has an old article called "Rice is a Breed Apart" that's worth a read: Rice literally had route adaptations for every corner. Obviously *part* of that is work ethic - but the *other* part is adaptability. You have to be able to adjust your gait/hip position/everything from game to game. I don't think Moss was capable of doing that. His body just wasn't built that way.

So of course Rice would get frustrated by seeing a guy like Moss who's so fast seem so lazy, because Rice worked ridiculously hard to adapt to beat corners. But there's no guarantee that if Moss worked hard that he'd end up as fluid and adaptable as Rice was. I mean, half the reason why people are amazed with Moss is because he looks like he's just working so effortlessly to get up to speed due to his stride being so long. But that also means that he's not going to have the same agility that Rice had with shorter routes.

81 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

In basketball they call it "gravity." Stephen Curry, for example, is such a monumental danger from beyond the arc that he draws secondary defenders, who must always be in position to rotate, to his orbit, making more room for teammates to maneuver. Regardless of whether it shows up in his personal production, it's to his credit. Same with the way Moss warped a defense.

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Steve Smith is one of my favorite football players. And while he was a terrific receiver, he wasn't someone who I felt a good defense couldn't take away. I've never been a big Sean Taylor guy, he struck me as a high-end box safety with adequate coverage skills. his career was cut short before he could really blossom into that role but I felt like someone like Kam Chancellor was the realized version of Sean Taylor.

Peak TO was a special player, but I might rather have Julio Jones in his prime than TO. This goes back to my original point. If you can make a debate about who you would rather have, then they fall off my short list. There really was no one like moss. One reason I put Calvin was Calvin really had no flaws either as a receiver, other than the misfortune of playing in Detroit. He was big and he was fast and he was a good route runner.

there have been interviews with coaches where they've discussed Calvin in his prime. He was so fluid and fast for a guy that size.

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Size, strength, speed...I've never seen anything else in football quite like his best open-field runs. CBs would bounce off him like padded darts from a kids gun. So much mass moving at such a high speed, you could tell sometimes that defenders were avoiding contact, waiting for reinforcements so they could gang tackle. He wasn't as fast as the great RBs or WRs but he was fast enough and nimble enough to make it difficult to line him up - he'd make guys miss.
Beyond that, he had fantastic hands and acrobatic ability. I remember one catch against the Jets about three years ago in which he was running across the field and had to jump for a ball as two DBs hit him. The pass was off target and - mid-air, taking a hit - he twisted his upper body and stretching out one hand behind him caught the ball although it had already passed by. It was a catch that I don't think any other player in the league could have made, not that particular catch.
I'm guessing that it's the back that's ending his career. He can still block at a high level but running routes he's extremely stiff and can't turn at the waist like he used to. Wouldn't be surprised if he'd had some sort of spinal fusion surgery.

45 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I am sorry but guys like Gonlzalez and Gates were glorified WR’s playing the TE position. Gronk was an unstoppable force in the running game, better than most offensive linemen. He also used to play on special teams and was also a great blocker when he wasn’t getting the ball. So I stand by my point. Greatest TE EVER!

65 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

That statement has no objective value whatsoever. For example, how can one compare modern TEs to someone like John Mackey (1st TE to get in HOF)? The game was so different then (1960s) that comparing raw numbers is meaningless and if memory serves the raw data needed for a DYAR/DVOA comparison is not available for that time.
So you really can't say one was 'better', just that both were great players.

100 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I've read different things about their blocking - from what I gathered, they were both adequate. Gronk, on the other hand, could have had a long career in the NFL even if he only caught ten passes a season.

87 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Really well said, but I'd even say that the game's been changing *so much* in the past 30-40 years that it's tough to compare players even separated by 10 years! Honestly, the only person in the NFL who I'd be comfortable saying is the best at his position even in the past *20* years is Bill Belichick.

95 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I feel really comfortable saying Watt is/was/has been the best defensive end of the past 20 years. I feel pretty comfortable saying Ed Reed was the best safety, and even more comfortable saying he was the best FS. I feel pretty comfortable saying Donald is the best DT. And while I expect a little more pushback here, I actually feel pretty comfortable saying Marshall Faulk was the best running back. Wade Phillips as DC probably qualifies too.

98 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Agreed with all of those names, including Faulk. There hasnt been a rushers like him since. Would probably add Joe Thomas as the best pass pro o lineman. I could also be talked into Revis being the best corner of the last 20 years as well.

102 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

This actually made me laugh...

Polamalu certainly was a dynamic player but he often gambled wrong...moreso than Ed Reed and his gambles. If other coordinators gave their dynamic players complete freedom the way LeBeau gave Troy then I'm sure they would've had more impact (It was noted that LeBeau often designed plays that allowed Troy to do whatever he wanted...)

Polamalu could take advantage of overmatched or under prepared teams (hello Browns and Bengals for years) but there's a reason why the Brady and Belichick manipulated him, he was often the point that could be manipulated in the Steelers defense.

Although I concede that at times Polamalu could catch fire and be in the zone against certain offenses, such as against the Colts in the 2005 playoffs. He was everywhere.

103 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I was not a big Polamalu fan. He absolutely was a multifaceted weapon who could make an impact in a multitude of ways. But smart qbs could use his tendencies against him and he simply did not have the range to match a player like Ed Reed. They were so different that a direct comparison was hard, but both Brady and Manning would openly admit that Reed didn't play like a traditional safety. His speed and instincts were so spot on that he simply altered plays because he was Ed Reed. I can think of no higher compliment.

I will also say, Ed Reed's instincts sometimes were so wrong that it did lead to poor results, but at least they were wrong in such an unpredictable a way that the great qbs still feared him.

68 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

If you want to do this schtick that's fine, but allow me to make some stylistic suggestions. Try it like this next time:

I sorty btu Gstrs a d Gomzolez rae golotified WRt pltong YE psotion. Gronj unstopphle and GRTRST TR EBRRTy

70 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

In 129 games with Gronk (2010-18, including postseason) Brady averaged 7.83 yards per attempt with a 103.1 passer rating, and NE scored 30.84 points per game.

In 51 games without Gronk (2010-18, including postseason) Brady averaged 6.80 yards per attempt with a 87.2 passer rating, and NE scored 26.16 points per game.


78 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

79 TD’s in 115 games, a rate surpassed by only 4 others (Rice, Moss are 2 of those players).
When game planning against teams with Gates and Gonzalez, I doubt that defensive coordinators were up all night scared to death like they were with Gronk. No way the Pat’s win this past SB without him, the blocking and critical catches against the Chiefs and Rams.
No one was more abused by defenders ( who were allowed to get away with a ton of illegal stuff) against Gronk that would have drawn a flag with any other WR or TE.
That game against the Steelers where Beady just kept throwing to him on the one drive and they could do nothing to stop hiim.
We all have our opinions and I will stick by mine.
Rice greatest WR EVER. Gronk greatest TE. Plus, who was more fun to have around? Gronk wins by that alone.

82 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

The NFL had a contest in the early 20-aughts, where the winner got to choose an NFL player to visit their school. I was in college at the time, and I don't remember if my school counted or not. I do remember laughing about the most interesting players to pick if we somehow won. We agreed that the biggest, ghettoest, most rowdy linemen would be the best, so at that time my friends and I would have chosen Warren Sapp. By this metric, Gronk may well have been the best player in the NFL recently.

But you know, there's a whole long debate on this very XP about who is actually the greatest TE ever, and why. You might enjoy reading that debate, maybe even joining in, because all the points you brought up here are brought up there as well.

85 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

I also dislike when someone picks out a single statistic as the measuring stick. "Ah ha, but when it comes to yac on 20+ yard throws...so and so kills all other competitors."

83 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Not to take anything away from Gronk.

I've got 5 guys with a better receiving TD rate: Hutson, Beckham, Moss, Owens and Powell.

Of course, Gronk has an advantage in that he retired after his age 29 season, so no decline years. If we look only at players through age 29, his TD rate drops to 11th. Cloyce Box, Lance Alworth, Alyn Beals (AAFC), Tommy McDonald and Bob Hayes are also ahead of him.

92 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Regarding the "durability/longevity" debate earlier in the thread, I think durability is much more important than longevity. For example, imagine two hypothetical players. Player A plays all 16 games a year for 5 years, and then abruptly retires. These 5 years are, by both advanced and conventional stats, the 5 best seasons ever at his position. His worst year is better than anyone else's best year. Meanwhile, Player B puts up the exact same career totals as Player A, but he does it over the course of 10 years, missing exactly 8 games each year with injuries. So, he actually has the same per-game averages (and much more "longevity"), as compared to Player A.

Nevertheless, while both players' stats are exactly the same, in terms of both volume and efficiency, Player A was far more valuable to his team than Player B. In fact, Player A would be a slam-dunk HOFer, and you could make an excellent case for him as the GOAT at his position. Player B, on the other hand, would warrant very little HOF consideration, simply because he cost his team so much by missing so many games. It's a matter of dependability. You simply can't depend on such an injury-prone player.

101 Re: Rob Gronkowski Retires

Thought these raw numbers made for a funny comparison:
'17 Brady: 4,577 yards, 32 TD, 8 INT, 66.3 completion %
'18 Brady: 4,355 yards, 29 TD, 11 INT, 65.8 completion %
Wonder how he'll do this season with Gronk in the luxury suite.