Will Rob Gronkowski End Up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

    Rob Gronkowski, star of Redbox-renowned movies “Deported” and “The Lit Party,” will postpone his promising Hollywood career for at least one more year and

    April 26, 2018

    Rob Gronkowski, star of Redbox-renowned movies “Deported” and “The Lit Party,” will postpone his promising Hollywood career for at least one more year and return to the New England Patriots for his ninth NFL season.

    On Wednesday, the five-time Pro Bowl tight end tweeted that he “will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats.” The news comes as a relief to fans across Boston after rumors circulated that the 28-year-old might call it a career due to numerous injuries throughout his tenure with New England.

    So the charismatic Gronk has at least one more NFL season left in him before he joins the WWE or signs on for a cringe-inducing reality dating show. But what will his legacy be when he decides to hang it up?

    If he plays just one more season, will Rob Gronkowski be a Hall of Famer?

    Gronkowski’s 474 career receptions are not particularly eye-catching compared to his contemporaries—he ranks just 23rd among active players. But considering that he’s played in all 16 regular season games only twice during his injury-plagued career, let’s take a look at his per-game numbers compared to the Hall of Fame standard.

    Of the modern-day tight ends currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, only two averaged four or more receptions per game in their career: Kellen Winslow (5.0) and Shannon Sharpe (4.0). Gronk currently holds an average of 4.6. That puts him higher than future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates (4.2) and within reach of Tony Gonzalez (4.9) and Jason Witten (4.8).

    Gronk’s strength isn’t the frequency with which he records receptions; it’s what he does when the football gets into his hands that makes him truly dangerous.

    So how does his career average of 15.1 yards per catch compare to the game’s other great tight ends? Only Jackie Smith (16.5) and John Mackey (15.8) averaged more among current Hall of Famers. Antonio Gates averages 12.4 yards per reception. Tony Gonzalez averaged 11.4 and Jason Witten holds a 10.8-yard average. Once Gronk makes the catch, he instantly turns into one of the greatest tight ends in history.

    Gronk’s playmaking abilities often lead him right into the end zone—a total of 77 times (one rushing) to be exact. Future Hall of Famers Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates have racked up 111 and 114 touchdowns in their careers, respectively, leaving Gronkowski behind in this category. But don’t sleep on Gronk’s touchdown numbers.

    In his eight NFL seasons, Gronk has tallied 10+ touchdowns five times. Modern-day tight ends currently in the Hall of Fame tallied five such seasons combined. Antonio Gates had four seasons of 10 or more TDs and Tony Gonzalez had three. Jason Witten has never reached the end zone 10 times in a season.

    Still, the lack of games played will likely be what skeptical Hall of Fame voters bring to the table when Gronkowski’s résumé lands in front of them.

    Let’s say that Gronk plays 12 games in 2018, the average amount he’s played per season throughout his career, and then decides to retire. He’ll have played in 114 career games, not including the playoffs. That’s more games played than Hall of Fame running backs Gale Sayers (68) and Terrell Davis (78), both of whom retired due to their own battles with injuries.

    Sayers’ case for induction into Canton was based off the fact that the NFL had never seen a player with his play-making speed and versatility before he was drafted in 1965, while Davis led the league in rushing with 2,008 yards in 1998 and dominated as the Broncos’ workhorse back during the playoffs for two Super Bowl runs. Davis’ playoff success serving as the catalyst for his Hall of Fame membership should bode well for Gronk, whose legendary postseason performances might be what he’s ultimately remembered for on the gridiron.

    In 13 career playoff games, including a Super Bowl XLIX victory, Gronk has 68 receptions for 972 receiving yards (14.29 yards per catch) with 12 touchdowns.

    Just how good are those stats? Good enough to make him the NFL’s all-time postseason leader in receiving yards and touchdown receptions by a tight end.

    He’s also one of just 15 players in NFL history to have three touchdown receptions in a single playoff game. On top of that, he’s tied for second all-time in postseason touchdown receptions with John Stallworth, only behind the G.O.A.T., Jerry Rice.

    But Gronk isn’t just about business. There’s a reason he has Hollywood producers knocking on his door to get a taste of his infectious personality. He loves to embrace the “meathead athlete” persona, as proven by his knack for dropping ridiculous sound bites and other innuendos at his post-game press conferences.

    It’d be pretty tough to forget the time Gronk fired off, “Yo soy fiesta!“ in 2011 in response to a question in Spanish after the AFC Championship Game, or when he danced on Shaq’s shoulders at a nightclub in Miami. When it comes time for journalists to submit their Pro Football Hall of Fame ballots, will they reflect on the click-generating headlines Gronk produced for them during his career?

    Gronk’s record speaks for itself: He has put together perhaps the greatest eight-year stretch for a tight end in NFL history. And with a ninth season as impressive as his first eight, his chances of ending up in Canton aren’t bad at all.

    It’s just too bad we have to wait at least six years to hear Gronkowski’s induction speech.

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