Among the most intriguing off-beat wagers related to the NFL season is whether former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will un-retire this season and resume grabbing Tom Brady's passes, then mowing down outmatched tacklers in his wake. His remarks Tuesday at a function to announce a partnership with the company Abacus might have fueled interest in the bet but did not clarify much. (Abacus makes products with CBD oil for pain relief, and Gronk will advocate for its use by athletes.)
From a physical standpoint, the sure-fire Hall of Famer says he is ready to roll. Gronkowski claims to be far removed from a thigh bruise suffered in Super Bowl LIII that resulted in internal bleeding and prevented him from sleeping normally for about a month.
Mentally? That's another matter. His mental state would be incompatible with football now -- and may not ever be compatible again -- Gronkowski acknowledged. "Football was bringing me down, and I didn't like it," he said while holding back tears.
He indicated that the door will stay unlocked to his return for up to three years.
"Maybe down the road," he said. "I have to have that passion. I have to have the fire."
Gronk's retirement set off a tumultuous offseason for the Patriots, who have endured arrests and suspensions. His position has been thinned out, at least temporarily, by a four-game benching of Benjamin Watson for a performance-enhancing drug violation and a one-game sit-down of Lance Kendricks on the heels of a marijuana arrest in 2017.
Another retired New England tight end, Jermaine Wiggins, has offered some long-term advice on the will-he-or-won't-he wager. Wiggins told TMZ that he is almost certain -- 97 percent, to be exact -- that Gronkowski will suit up again.
Evidently, 29 is the fashionable age for weary, burned-out NFL standouts to call it quits. Former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who turns 30 in two weeks, announced his retirement over the weekend. Gronkowski was a few months shy of the big 3-0 when he declared his departure from the sport.
Perhaps the effectiveness of the pain-abatement products he is endorsing will push Gronk into a comeback mindset. Yet he did not sound Tuesday like someone who is eager to pull on a Pats jersey -- or another team's -- anytime soon.
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