New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski officially announced his retirement from the NFL after nine seasons in the league. The former Arizona Wildcat announced on his Instagram page Sunday afternoon.

 
 
 
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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 apart 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 apart 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 its 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 apart 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 whats next.

A post shared by Rob Gronkowski (@gronk) on Mar 24, 2019 at 2:53pm PDT

Gronkowski, the No. 42 overall pick in the second-round pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, finished his NFL career with 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. He finished his career 104th on the league's all-time receiving yards list. Gronkowski also was a five-time Pro Bowl player and made the All-Pro four times. 

Over his nine-year career, Gronkowski, also known as "Gronk," helped lead the Patriots to three Super Bowls in five appearances with star quarterback Tom Brady. He holds the records for most catches (23) and receiving yards (297) in a Super Bowl for a tight end. 

The records don't stop there for Gronkowski. He is still the only tight end in NFL history to lead the league in receiving touchdowns, which he did in 2011. Gronk's 17 touchdowns that season are the most in a season for a tight end. He is tied with Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez for most 1,000-plus yards seasons with four. 

Before his NFL career, Gronkowski played three seasons at the UA and became an All-Pac-10 first team tight end in 2008 and a third-team All-American in the same season. 

Contact sports content producer Justin Spears at 573-4312 or jspears@tucson.com. On Twitter @justinesports

Sports producer

Justin writes stories and produces digital content about UA football and basketball and high school football. A Tucson native, Justin graduated from the UA in 2017 and is the host of the Wildcast Podcast and a radio host on ESPN Tucson.