Former Bills Rival Rob Gronkowski Visits Buffalo After Announcing Retirement

Rob Gronkowski

Getty Rob Gronkowski makes a catch in a game against the Buffalo Bills.

Rob Gronkowski had a habit of tormenting the Buffalo Bills during his 11 seasons in the NFL, but his first visit back to Buffalo after announcing his retirement was much more cordial.

Gronkowski announced on June 21 that he was hanging up the cleats after an NFL career that spanned the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and included four Super Bowl titles. While Gronkowski has yet to firm up his post-retirement plans, he made a trip to Buffalo to help out his family business and raise money for a good cause.

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Homecoming for Gronkowski

Since announcing his retirement earlier in the month, Gronwkoski has not taken much time off. He visited a military base in Texas to host a camp for kids, then traveled to Buffalo to join his four brothers in leading a Saturday morning workout in the city’s Fountain Plaza. As the Buffalo News reported, the event was organized by NextGen Fitness Buffalo, a gym owned by the Gronkowski brothers, and raised money for the local charity Friends of Carly.

The event had a lot of appeal for Gronkowski. Not only did he drum up some publicity for the family business, he also got to support a good cause while reconnecting with some old friends. Gronkowski grew up in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, where he played high school football until leaving his senior season for Florida.

“This one is special because it hasn’t gone on in two or three years now,” Gronkowski said. “Everyone is pumped up for it. My high school buddies, they’re are all pumped up.”

“It’s a great foundation, and also at the same time, it’s a great party, and (I) get to see all my friends and family from Buffalo,” he added.


Repairing Bridges in Buffalo

Gronkowski’s visit may also be part of an effort to repair his image, which was tarnished in his hometown through his tenure with the Patriots. Not only did Gronkowski regularly gash Buffalo’s defense over that stretch, he was also responsible for one of the most notorious hits in Bills history. In a 2017 game, he earned a one-game suspension for a very late hit on Tre’Davious White after the Bills cornerback had intercepted Tom Brady in the waning minutes of a Patriots blowout win.

Gronkowski had already started work on rebuilding his reputation in Buffalo. Last season, before the Bills faced off against his Buccaneers, Gronkowski shared some memories of growing up in the Buffalo suburbs and idolizing Bills players.

“The Bills do mean a lot to my family and I,” Gronkowski said, via WKBW. “We grew up in Buffalo, 25 minutes from the stadium. I was a big Bills fan growing up.”

“Whenever I was in the backyard playing football with my friends, my brothers and I, you line up out wide you’re pretending you’re the receiver they had,” Gronkowski added. “Moulds was my favorite player. If you make a stop or big hit you’re acting like Takeo Spikes. The history of the Buffalo Bills goes way back for my family and I from playing in the back yard to watching the games.”

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