Rob Gronkowski is arguably the NFL's most notorious goofball. He's inarguably its most dominant tight end. So, when reports surfaced after the Super Bowl suggesting the Patriots star was considering quitting football to pursue a career in wrestling or Hollywood, it seemed fair to be skeptical.
But those rumors haven't been stifled since the conclusion of the NFL season. In fact, they've only picked up.
Gronk still hasn't committed to playing football next season and, according to NBC Sports Boston's Tom E. Curran, he's seriously considering retirement ... and he has been for a while.
According to Curran, Gronkowski has been unhappy in New England since training camp, and he almost called it quits before this past season even got underway.
"He didn't enjoy himself in 2017," said Curran on NBC Sports Boston's nightly show, Boston Sports Tonight, on Monday. "He did not have a good time, despite the fact that his body was in a better situation than its been in a long time and despite the fact that he's one of the most dominant players at any skill position. The atmosphere in New England is starting to wear on him physically and mentally.
"He seriously considered stepping away from the game in training camp. He had kind of had it. At that point his body wasn't responding. He wanted to train a certain way. The team didn't necessarily want him to train the way he wanted to train. They were at loggerheads. He was pissed."
In the immediate aftermath of the Super Bowl, the Gronk rumors were tied to the concussion that he suffered in AFC Championship a few weeks earlier. With an increasingly bright spotlight on the sport's connection to CTE, the NFL has seen a rising number of players willing to hang up the cleats earlier than expected in an effort to preserve their long-term health. Some believed Gronk might just be the next player ready to move on for the sake of his brain.
But the latest out of New England seems to indicate that there's more complexity to Gronkowsi's situation. Curran went on to suggest that the tight end may not be the only Patriots player that was extremely unhappy with the culture and climate in New England last season, saying that there needs to be "a hell of an air-clearing" in Foxborough before the start of next season.
And if you doubt Curran's claims, consider this: WEEI Patriots beat reporter Ryan Hannable penned an early training camp update back in August asking "Is something wrong with Rob Gronkowski?" In that post, Hannable took notice of something being very off with the Pats veteran.
Aside from the first day of camp, which was held without pads, Gronkowski hasn't made many big plays, or even seemed like himself when it comes to after plays and interacting with his teammates.
It's hard to read much into play during training camp, but simply put: Gronkowski hasn't looked anywhere close to himself. This has been somewhat surprising because for the first time in several years he was a full participant in all of the spring sessions and seemed 100 percent healthy for training camp.
So while it still remains unclear what, if anything is bothering Gronkowski, there's no denying the tight end hasn't been his normal self this summer and is a situation which bares watching over the next several weeks.
It remains somewhat of a mystery how much Gronkowski's situation has to do with the other drama that reportedly went on in New England this season -- specifically the alleged power struggle between Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft.
However, it's worth noting that Gronk worked closely with Brady's trainer and health guru, Alex Guerrero, over the summer and had hefty praise for his role in preparing him for the season. Guerrero was reportedly banned from the team's facilities, charter and sidelines during the season.