Through 29 combined years with the New England franchise, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski became pretty much synonymous with the Patriots' name. But, that all changed last year when the superstar quarterback announced his move to Tampa Bay to join the Buccaneers organization -- bringing his No. 1 tight end target with him.
In the former Patriot duo's first season with the Bucs, they never crossed paths with Bill Belichick and their old squad. But, that is set to change early on in the 2021 season.
When the full 17-game season schedule was released last week, one contest jumped off the page immediately: a Week 4 matchup between the Bucs and Pats in Foxboro.
While most of the media attention will likely be focused on Brady's return to the city that made him a football legend, Gronk's return also holds some serious significance. Speaking to Buccaneers.com, the four-time All-Pro TE shared the emotional impact this game will have on him.
“That’s going to be pretty crazy,” Gronkowski said. “That’s going to be pretty epic. It’s definitely going to be emotional for sure I would say. You know I just had a great nine years. Probably the best nine years of my life. It was basically the beginning of my whole football career there. It’s definitely going to be heartfelt when I go back. I’ve just got to be prepared for that game for sure. I’ve got to be prepared for every game – but especially that one. It’s never going to be easy. It’s going to be tough. But it’s going to be a good one. It’s going to be different.”
Through nine seasons with the Patriots, Gronk solidified himself as one of the best tight ends to ever play the game -- logging 7,861 yards, 521 receptions and 79 touchdowns.
While catching passes in Gillette Stadium is nothing new for Gronk, it'll certainly be odd to seem him do so in a Tampa Bay uniform.