Rob Gronkowski Says He's Had 'Probably 20 Concussions' in His Career — with 'Five Blackout Ones'
"The surgeries [were] adding up, the lifestyle I was living, just the constant hits I was taking," retired NFL star Rob Gronkowski told CBS News
Rob Gronkowski is revealing new details about his health scares over the course of his nine-year career with the NFL.
Almost six months after the former New England Patriots tight end, 30, announced his retirement from professional football, he opened up to CBS News about how his experiences from about age 21 to 27 “caught up to” him.
“The surgeries [were] adding up, the lifestyle I was living, just the constant hits I was taking,” said Gronkowski. “The inflammation was just storing up in my body and when inflammation’s in your body, you’re working at a slower rate. You’re not at the speed you want to be at. And I knew that. I felt that, over the last two years.”
“I would let my son play football, but first off, I would educate him on the game — educate him on what I went through — and I truly believe that any injury that you receive is fixable, though,” he added. “I went through it. I had nine surgeries. Probably had 20 concussions in my life, no lie. I remember five blackout ones.”
He also had a pint of blood drained from his body due to “internal bleeding” after Super Bowl LIII this year, but said he’s “fixed” now — and might consider coming back to the sport, but only if it felt right and maybe in a different position.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Are you gonna come back as a wide receiver?’ … I’m gonna start telling people I’m gonna be a safety or something — be in the coverage, a six-foot-six safety,” he told CBS News. “It’s the same answer I have with everyone: I have to be really feeling it to come back, and I’m in a good place right now.”
Also on Friday, Gronkowski responded to Chris Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, on Twitter after the latter wrote, “@RobGronkowski I appreciate and respect that you have the guts to talk honestly about #concussions and #CTE. But right now #CTE cannot be fixed- I invite your help in changing that.”
In response to Nowinski, Gronkowski wrote on Twitter, “It is fixable. I fixed mine. There are plenty of methods in this world that allow the brain to recover from severe damage. That is also why I would allow my kid to play football.”
“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. I will be retiring from the game of football today,” Gronkowski wrote on Instagram at the time, alongside a shot of himself celebrating the win.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity that [team owner Robert Kraft] and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last nine years have been amazing both on and off the field,” he continued. “The people I have met, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been [a part] of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity.”
Throughout his nine seasons playing for the Patriots, Gronkowski scored 79 touchdown receptions, according to ESPN. The three-time Super Bowl champion also holds numerous records for a tight end, the outlet reported, including having 10 or more touchdown receptions in five seasons.
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In early May, the athlete teased a potential return to the game at the Billboard Music Awards, joking on the red carpet that he may still “convince himself” to head back out onto the field.
“I mess with people. I say ‘fake retired’ to half the people. I say I’m coming back next week, but yes, I’m actually retired,” he shared. “But I like to mess around. Sometimes tell people I’m really not.”
However, that decision could change. “You never know. If you mess around that much about it, I might convince myself [to return],” Gronkowski shared, before admitting that he’s “feeling good” about retirement.
“I kind of like it right now,” he remarked. “I’m resting, recovering, I’m feeling good. It’s all going good.”