Red Sox: David Ortiz offers Rob Gronkowski advice on retirement rumors

BOSTON, MA - JULY 19: Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots hugs David Ortiz
BOSTON, MA - JULY 19: Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots hugs David Ortiz /

Boston Red Sox icon David Ortiz doesn’t believe it’s time for New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski to follow him into retirement.

David Ortiz knew when it was time for him to step away from the Boston Red Sox. He has no regrets about his decision to retire at the age of 40 once his body began to betray him. That doesn’t mean he would advise other athletes to follow his lead. Not if their time hasn’t come yet.

As far as Ortiz is concerned, the time for Rob Gronkowski to hang up his cleats hasn’t come yet.

Rumors have swirled ever since the New England Patriots fell short in Super Bowl LII that their star tight end was mulling retirement. The Patriots are already dealing with the inevitability of the finish line being on the horizon for their 40-year old quarterback. The organization has gone all in on maximizing the last few years of Tom Brady’s career. Losing Gronkowski to retirement would be a significant blow to the franchise’s pursuit of a sixth championship.

The mere possibility that Gronkowski could call it a career is enough to make Patriots fans break out in hives. Fear not, New England. Gronk isn’t done yet – at least not if he listens to the advice of his friend, Big Papi.

Ortiz told WEEI’s Rob Bradford on Wednesday at JetBlue Park that he doesn’t believe Gronkowski should retire yet.

"“I don’t think it’s time to go for him,” said Ortiz. “He’s too young. He’s still athletic. He has so much talent. I don’t think it’s a good decision.”"

While Oritz gave no indication that he’s discussed the topic with Gronk directly, he knows him well enough from the series of Dunkin Donuts commercials they worked together on to have some insight into what he may be thinking.

He also knows from experience what it’s like to question your future at the end of a mentally and physically draining season. Ortiz made up his mind prior to the 2016 season that it would be his last year. He basked in the adoration of a season-long retirement tour, at the end of which he rode off into the sunset satisfied with how his career came to an end.

His words on Gronk’s situation warn the 27-year old not to make a rash decision. Gronkowski still has a long life ahead of him. If he intends to give up football then he needs a plan for what comes next.

There may be options available if Gronk does retire from football. The WWE and Hollywood have both been rumored as his next step. Would either of those options be realistic?

The primary force driving Gronk to consider retirement is the injuries that he’s piled up. Over his seven-year career, Gronk has dealt with back, ankle, forearm, knee, hamstring and chest injuries. Not to mention the concussion he suffered in last year’s AFC Championship game. The growing concern as we learn more about concussions and the long-term effects of CTE are enough to make anyone think twice about playing football.

So why would professional wrestling be a logical alternative? Yes, wrestling is “fake.” It’s also an extremely physically demanding profession where the risk of injury may be even higher than it is in football.

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The WWE rumors stem from his appearance at Wrestlemania 33 last year. While Vince McMahon may be interested in a behemoth like Gronk, a jump to WWE would be little more than a publicity stunt. It’s hard to imagine him leaving football to take on the grueling schedule that WWE superstars face. He would likely aim for a reduced schedule, appearing a dozen times a year with a few high-profile matches sprinkled in. It’s the Brock Lesner schedule, only he wouldn’t be making Brock Lesner money. Gronk could make another appearance in WWE but don’t count on it becoming a career.

As for Hollywood, well… have you seen those Dunkin Donuts commercials? Gronk is a loveable goofball but his acting chops leave a lot to be desired. He’s perfect for commercials or cameo appearances but a career as a movie star probably isn’t in his future.

Gronk would be fine from a financial standpoint if he were to retire. He’s been saving every cent he’s made as a football player, choosing to live off his endorsement money instead. Considering he’s already made more money with the Patriots than most of us will earn in a lifetime, he’ll presumably be able to afford to retire at his age. It just may require a drastic change in lifestyle. Is he really willing to do that?

Probably not, at least according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who expects the star tight end to return to the Patriots next season.

Gronk has refrained from giving Pats fans a reason to breathe a sigh of relief by making a statement about his future. His cryptic tweets have only thrown more fuel on the fire.

Fans will remain nervous about his potential departure until we see Gronkowski in Patriots training camp this summer. He may be serious about considering retirement but still has plenty of time to make up his mind.

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If Gronk is on the fence about his future then he may want to give his friend Big Papi a call. Ortiz knows what it’s like to say goodbye to Boston’s passionate fanbase. If Gronk is willing to hear his advice, Ortiz appears to be more than willing to provide it.