Speculation about Rob Gronkowski's return is turning into full-blown cottage industry, and it will only get worse

Alex Reimer
July 18, 2019 - 12:01 pm

Get ready for the midsummer stream of speculative stories surrounding Rob Gronkowski’s seemingly inevitable NFL return. It appears as if nobody, including Gronk himself, can accept the fact he retired from football just four months ago.

Earlier this week, we saw ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio come out and report a “source close to Gronkowski” believes there’s a 40-percent chance the All-World tight end plays football this season. Given Florio’s known connection with Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, it’s fair to surmise the genesis of his information, especially since Rosenhaus floated the possibility of his client coming back immediately following Gronkowski’s retirement announcement. 

“Rob is 29 years old. He's still a very young man. It wouldn't shock me if he has a change of heart, if he feels great and he decides that he wants to play football,” Rosenhaus said on ESPN March 25, per Mike Reiss.

Now we have NFL hype man Rich Eisen pegging Gronkowski’s return at 100-percent, saying he won’t be able to shake off the football feeling, no matter how hard he tries. On his radio show Wednesday, Eisen outlined a scenario in which Gronk appears at the Patriots’ banner raising ceremony, and gets the itch to put on the pads again. 

Then, according to Eisen, all that would need to happen is one phone call from Tom Brady. “This is going to happen,” he said. “Somebody in the information business is going to find out the point by which he has to inform New England that he’s coming back, because paperwork needs to be filed, and removal from retirement list has to officially be done, and then there’s going to have to be some form of being on a roster by a certain point in order to be able to play in a certain game.”

In fairness to Eisen, he isn’t totally making this up. When Eisen posed Gronkowski the question this month about how he would respond to Brady if TB12 were to make a direct appeal to him, Gronk said he would tell the Patriots’ QB to call him in the playoffs. 

Then he was photographed playing catch with Brady on UCLA’s campus. “Tom needs someone to throw to so, you know, he calls Mr. Reliable Robbie G, the one and only,” Gronkowski told TMZ.

Last week, Gronkowski was videotaped speaking with Drew Brees on the ESPYs red carpet, replying he is "coming back" to an unknown question. 

All of the speculation is good for the Gronk brand, which is why he’s willing to fuel it. It keeps his name in the news and attached to the Patriots. And there are plenty of talking heads in the media who will happily broadcast the message, in addition to no shortage of ex-players who will want to weigh in. Former Patriots guard Sebastian Vollmer, who retired following shoulder surgery, said recently he doesn’t think Gronkowski is coming back –– for those who were wondering his take on the matter.

This is already turning into Brett Favre and Roger Clemens redux. We are all complicit in the newfound Gronk unretirement cottage industry.