For a number of years in the NFL, the aerial connection between Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski was the most potent in the league. When all was said and done, the duo wound up with four shared Super Bowl championships. As for Gronkowski, he’s routinely cited among the greatest tight ends to ever play professional football. His accomplishments are extraordinarily high among his position. But is this enough to put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
In truth, there are really only a handful of tight ends in the history of the NFL who stack up to Gronkowski. This is a handful that includes Travis Kelce, Kellen Winslow, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, John Mackey, and depending on your generosity, maybe one or two others. Simply put, Gronkowski is in rare company. For the sake of a relevant comparison, Kelce is the best of these names to compare to Gronkowski due to the two’s shared era.
Receiving Yards Per Game (Regular Season)
- Gronkowski – 64.9
- Kelce – 71.8
Receiving Touchdowns Per Game (Regular Season)
- Gronkowski – 0.6
- Kelce – 0.5
Kelce does have a slight edge over Gronkowski in the yardage department, but also has 1.4 more receptions per game. Despite this, Gronkowski averaged ever-so-slightly more touchdowns per game. This could symbolize a difference in the way the two tight ends were primarily utilized. Kelce, as been well-documented, tends to make up his own routes as he goes along, an innovative style of play. Gronkowski was that massive target at 6’6” that was going to go up and get the football in jump ball situations and not be denied.
Gronkowski also has those four Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, four first-team All-Pro selections, five Pro Bowl selections, and his naming to the Hall of Fame’s All-2010s Team. He’s also unlikely to ever come out of retirement again to play in the NFL, regardless of how many fans may want to see it happen. That means he’s a sure lock for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as soon as he becomes eligible. Like other recent retirees J.J. Watt and Gronkowski’s buddy Tom Brady, that matter of eligibility is the only this keeping him out right now.
We’re talking about one of the top three or four tight ends to ever play in the NFL when it comes to Gronkowski. It’s that simple. No tight end has ever scored as many touchdowns in a single season as he did in 2011. It’s also unlikely that that single-season record will be broken any time soon. No question about it, Gronkowski is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players in the history of the NFL.