Any mystery over Rob Gronkowski’s “next chapter” vanished Tuesday morning when he appeared for his hyped-up press conference in New York City wearing a CBDMEDIC T-shirt.
At the start, it looked like Gronkowski gathered the media for a CBD oil infomercial. For the first 10 minutes, that’s what it was as he and a representative from Abacus Health Products explained the benefits of CBD products.
But then the retired New England Patriots tight end began to take questions about his career, his decision to retire and the toll the game of football took on him mentally. Then he started to tear up.
“I want to be clear to my fans. I needed to recover,” said Gronkowski, who grew up in the Buffalo area. “I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down, and I didn’t like it. I was losing that joy in life.”
Gronkowski explained that, physically, he believes he could play in the NFL right now, but he doesn’t have it in him mentally to play. Instead, Gronkowski is shifting his focus to his physical and mental well-being, stating that he’s going by a new nickname, “Mr. Recovery.”
Gronkowski announced his retirement shortly after Super Bowl LIII after a long string of injuries began to hamper his NFL career. At his press conference Tuesday, Gronkowski said he is now living without pain. He says that’s a result of getting proper treatment as well as the pain relieving effects of CBD oils.
“I’m here today to appeal to the sports governing bodies of the world to update their positions on CBD. Whether that’s the NBA, MLB or NFL, it’s just time,” Gronkowski said.
Currently, CBD oil is on the list of banned substances in the NFL. Gronkowski said that he doesn’t know how many, if any, current NFL players currently use it. He explained that, after leaving the game, he began to explore new avenues for pain relief and now believes that CBD products are the safest way players can deal with pain.
So what does it all mean for Gronkowski’s future? Right now, his mind and soul keep telling him that he needs more time off.
Could he return? Maybe in a few years. Maybe never. Gronkowski said that even if he does get back mentally, he may choose to stay away from football if he’s staying active and enjoying his life outside the game.
“I know the toll that the NFL brings,” Gronkowski said. “I could be 100% healthy and go back. I know I’m putting my body back in jeopardy. It’s a brutal sport. That’s why everyone loves the game of football.”
On the other hand, the argument now exists that Gronkowski now has a business incentive to return to the game. If he’s going to connect himself with the benefits of CBD products for athletes, it’s in his best interest to showcase that on his greatest asset: himself.
We’ve seen that happen with Tom Brady and his TB12 Sports enterprise. Brady’s training methods and products are certainly unconventional. But as long as the quarterback continues excelling north of 40, he’s showing that it works.
If Gronkowski makes an NFL comeback after turning to CBD products to revitalize himself mentally and physically, that’s a heck of a selling point. But for now, Gronkowski remains an advocate for the physical benefits.
One example he used was when he stubbed his toe badly playing barefoot soccer this summer. He applied CBD oil to the black-and-blue bruises to deal with the pain, allowing him to better treat the injury.
In the end, Gronkowski’s “next chapter” centered around him promoting CBD products and their benefits. It came off as part infomercial and part advocacy. But behind it all, there was a lovable 30-year-old athlete who walked away from the game early explaining the toll the NFL took on his body and mind.
That admission may be more poignant than ever, coming just a few days after Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement at the age of 29, also citing the physical and mental toll the game took on him.