Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft react to Rob Gronkowski's retirement

The party had to end at some point for Rob Gronkowski, and that ending officially came on Sunday when the Patriots tight end announced his retirement from the NFL.

If you're wondering how much Gronk was appreciated in New England during his nine seasons with the team, all you have to do is look at the reaction coming out of Foxborough. Although Bill Belichick isn't exactly a guy who's known to toss around compliments that often, the Patriots coach offered some serious praise for Gronk after news of his retirement came out. 

"It was a pleasure and a privilege to coach Rob Gronkowski the past nine years," Belichick said in a statement. "From his rookie year until his final season and through countless times in between, Rob was a major reason why we won games and championships. His elite combination of size, skill, intelligence, toughness and ability to perform in pressure situations set him apart."

Belichick also called Gronk one of the "most complete players at his position," which is about the highest compliment you can get from Belichick. 

"Rob's impact on our team and organization was felt in many ways," Belichick said. "In the ultimate team sport, Rob was a great, great teammate. His production spoke for itself, but his daily attitude, unmistakably positive energy wherever he went and toward whoever he touched will never be forgotten. Rob will leave an indelible mark on the Patriots organization and the game as among the best, most complete players at his position to ever play."

Patriots owner Robert Kraft also had plenty to say about Gronk. After selecting him in the second-round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Kraft said one of the thing he loves about the tight end over the past nine years was his infectious personality. 

"In the nine years that I have known Rob Gronkowski, I have never known him to have a bad day," Kraft said. "He always has a youthful exuberance about him and is a joy to be around. 

Kraft also made the prediction that we'll soon be seeing Gronk in the Hall of Fame one day. 

"As a player, he earned the respect of his coaches and teammates for his hard work, preparation, selfless attitude and the sheer dominance of his game," Kraft said. "'Gronk' quickly became a fan favorite and the most dominant player at his position for nearly a decade. I look forward to honoring him in the near future as both a Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer. ... While Patriots fans are certainly going to miss seeing him play, he will be a Patriot for life and celebrated as a three-time Super Bowl Champion."

As long as he doesn't return to the NFL at any point, Gronk will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2024. 

Finally, the man who has been throwing passes to Gronk for the past nine years also weighed in on the tight end's retirement. In a lengthy statement posted to Instagram, Tom Brady called it a privilege to have gotten a chance to play with Gronk.  

"What an honor and privilege to play with you these past nine years Gronk!" Brady wrote. "You accomplished so much and our team was almost unbeatable when you were on the field! Your fun-loving, inspiring, and positive energy made an impact on everybody you came into contact with! Not just that, but for as great as a player you are, you are a better teammate and person. The NFL was a better place with you in it! But I have no doubt you will be a success in anything you do!!! Love you pal!"

Based on the reaction of the the three most important figures in the Patriots organization, it's pretty clear how much Gronk meant to the team. For more reaction from around the NFL on Gronk's retirement, be sure to click here

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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