When Rob Gronkowski announced he was mounting a comeback and it would be with his friend Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, fans were excited. They hated to see arguably the greatest tight end ever call it quits when he did—and not just because he was only 29 at the time.
They wanted him to go out on a high note.
It cannot get too much higher than winning the Super Bowl, of course. However, he didn’t play up to his usual standards (47 receptions for 682 yards and three touchdowns).
Fans hoped he could redeem himself with a big season down in Tampa Bay with his ole’ buddy, Tom Brady. Coming back and having a great season would certainly help boost his brand. Nothing provides a football player with publicity quite like making big plays and dominating the competition.
But so far, he’s done none of that.
Two games into his comeback, Rob Gronkowski has had the ball thrown his way just four times, three times during Week One, and only once last weekend. Of those four targets, he’s caught just two for 11 yards.
His most significant contribution to date? A pass interference call against the Saints:
They had to be hoping for more from their $9.25 million tight end. But you wouldn’t know it from what Bruce Arians said when he was asked about Gronkowski’s lack of production:
Arians complimented Gronkowski’s run blocking and brushed off the lack of production due to Brady taking what defenses give him.
Tampa Bay had to be hoping to get more out of Gronkowski, but he’s been out of the game for a year. While he may still be in shape, his body isn’t accustomed to playing, and his instincts probably haven’t kicked back in yet.
He may need time to remember how to create separation like he used to. With 14 games left, he still has plenty of time to get his mojo back. But if he doesn’t, he may have to retire once again when the season ends.
Otherwise, his exit will be because the Bucs decide not to resign him, and no one else picks him up.
Should that happen, not only will his legacy be tarnished, but his brand will also take a hit.
Everyone wants a piece of the fun-loving, party animal, and Super Bowl champion. But when you trade out ‘Super Bowl champion’ with ‘failed comeback,’ his brand becomes much less appealing.