Former Rival Rob Gronkowski Makes Surprising Admission About the Bills

Rob Gronkowski

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

Rob Gronkowski accomplished a lot over his 11 NFL seasons, but never did get to live out his childhood dream — playing for the Buffalo Bills.

Gronkowski, who grew up in the Buffalo suburb of Amherst, grew up watching the Bills and said he idolize the players of his youth. In a recent appearance on “Up & Adams,” Gronkowski said he wished he could have gotten a chance to play for the Bills before retiring.

“In a way for sure, you know,” Gronkowski said when host Kay Adams asked if he was “bummed” he never got to play for the Bills. “That’s a dream come true, especially when you’re a kid, you definitely want to play for your hometown team because that’s the team that you’re watching your whole time growing up.”

Gronkowski: ‘Would Have Been Really, Really Cool’ to Play for Bills

The Bills had a chance to draft Gronkowski. They held the No. 41 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, but took defensive tackle Torell Troup. Gronkowski went to the New England Patriots with the very next pick, going on to play nine seasons there and tormenting the Bills — while Troup was out of the NFL after just two seasons.

Gronkowski had a knack for turning in big games against the Bills, making 74 catches for 1,132 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 career games facing his hometown team. He also became one of the most controversial figures after a 2017 game where he laid a late hit on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White. Gronkowski earned the only suspension of his career for the incident.

Gronkowski has worked to rebuild some relationships with Buffalo. In July, shortly after announcing his NFL retirement, Gronkowski returned to the city for a fundraiser.

This week, he joined a number of current and former players in donating to a fundraiser started by Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who collapsed on the field during the team’s Monday Night Football game on January 2 after suffering cardiac arrest.

Gronkowski told Adams that he once dreamed of playing for the Bills and it “would have been really, really cool” if he had gotten to live that out.

“Every time I was going to a game it was like, ‘Man, how great would that be if I played for the Buffalo Bills when I get older,’ ” Gronkowski said.

When Adams brought up the idea of Gronkowski catching passes from quarterback Josh Allen, the future Hall of Famer joked about making a second NFL comeback.

“Hey, you never know,” he said. “I’m still young, I’ve got five more years to possibly come out of retirement.”

Bills Once Interested in Signing Rob Gronkowski

Gronkowski almost had a chance to close out his career with his hometown team. Last March, The Athletic’s Tim Graham reported that the Bills showed interest in signing Gronkowski as he hit free agency.

“There is hope at One Bills Drive that Gronkowski would be willing to finish his career in Western New York,” Graham tweeted at the time.

Despite a breakout season from Dawson Knox, the Bills were thin at tight end and had no other reliable pass-catcher at the time. When Gronkowski opted for retirement, the Bills ended up signing veteran O.J. Howard, but he was a surprise cut at the end of training camp.

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