Rob Gronkowski's return to the NFL seemingly materialized quickly, as the five-time Pro Bowl tight end was officially announced as the newest member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday just hours after reports emerged indicating he was interested in playing again.
The former New England Patriots standout, however, had been weighing the idea of playing again for some time.
In a video news conference Wednesday, Gronkowski said he threw a football around with Tom Brady in February, before the six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback decided to sign with the Buccaneers. At that point, Gronkowski felt "a fire underneath me again," he said, and told Brady he was interested in the possibility of teaming up again.
"I said, if there's a right opportunity out there, and you go somewhere, and the opportunity is right, even if you go back to the Patriots … there's a possible chance I would definitely love to reconnect," Gronkowski said.
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Gronkowski announced last March he planned to retire from football, but he repeatedly kept open the possibility of an eventual return. On Wednesday, he maintained his body needed the rest after enduring injuries to his back, knees, forearm, ankles and head throughout his nine-year career.
But the chance to work again with Brady, with whom he's connected for 78 career touchdowns, helped pull Gronkowski back to the field.
"Playing with Tom is special," Gronkowski said. "He's one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. To build a connection with a quarterback, too, is something special. You've seen it many times with many others players – they can switch teams, and they might not have the same chemistry as they had with one of their other quarterbacks. We have a great chemistry out there, and every time we get together, it's just like the old days."
Gronkowski, 30, said he is currently weighs 250 pounds but added that gaining 10 pounds "would be easy." He said he played most of his career between 262 and 265 pounds, though he was listed at 268.
Gronkowski also heaped praise on Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft as he reflected on his time with the Patriots, but he noted there were difficulties in playing for the franchise.
"The New England Patriots, hands down, it is not the easiest place to play, but it gets you right," Gronkowski said. "What I've learned there, I'm definitely going to take it with me."
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.
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