UNITED STATES—The rumor mill had been churning for quite some time, but NFL star and New England Patriots tight-end Rob Gronkowski made it official on Sunday, March 24 that he is retiring from the sport. Gronkowski indicated in a lengthy Instagram post that he was taking off the uniform once and for all.

“It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been a part of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine.

Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been a part of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now it’s time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be a part of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of what’s next.”

Gronkowski has been a major player in helping the Patriots win several Super Bowls in recent years. Rob has won three Super Bowl rings with the organization since joining in 2010. Some might be wondering how Gronk’s departure will impact the Patriots, and I must say I do believe it will impact the team. Gronk and Brady have a dynamic partnership. Gronk was the go to guy for Tom when he was in a tight and needed to complete a pass or make something happen. Without Gronk in his corner, Brady will have to rely on other teammates, notably Julian Edelman.

Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady responded to Gronk’s news with the following post on Instagram “What an honor and privilege to play with you these past nine years @gronk! 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!”