Rob Gronkowski takes as many bone-jarring hits as any NFL player, and the New England Patriots tight end knows that type of physical toll can really wear players down mentally and physically throughout a season.
Gronkowski spoke to reporters Wednesday ahead of his team's Super Bowl LIII matchup with the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, and he gave an honest, insightful view of how the physicality of pro football impacts players and teams.
"The season's a grind. It's up and down. I'm not going to lie and sit here and say every week is the best," Gronkowski said. "Not at all. You go up, you go down. You can take some serious hits. To tell you the truth, just try and imagine getting hit all the time and trying to be where you want to be every day in life. It's tough, it's difficult. To take hits to the thigh, take hits to your head. Abusing your body isn't what your brain wants. When your body is abused, it can bring down your mood. You've got to be able to deal with that, too, throughout the season. You gotta be able to deal with that in the games.
"And no one realizes that, and everyone expects us players to be wide awake every single day, and it's like 'yo, i just took 50 hits to my head — or not to my head, but I'm saying I just took 50 collisions, and then like the next day everyone wants you to be up. They want practice full speed, next week they want the game to be full speed, but they don't understand sometimes what players are going through with their bodies, with their minds. That's why I've been saying you see a shift in players in games where people are down the whole game, and then you see, all of a sudden, the next week it's like 'how did this team just go from one switch to the other?'"
There have been reports throughout the season that Gronkowski could consider retirement after Sunday's Super Bowl. He's 29 years old and has dealt with many injuries throughout his nine-year career. Gronk hasn't played a full 16-game regular season since 2011 and has missed 29 games over the last seven years.