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Playing 'somewhere else' drove Rob Gronkowski's return

Nine seasons of spectacular team and individual success characterized Rob Gronkowski's autumns with the New England Patriots.

Still, it was nine seasons with the same team.

Ultimately, it was a change of a scenery and a start anew that propelled the future Hall of Fame tight end to return from retirement and join Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"As a player, you always want to see what it is like somewhere else," Gronkowski told Boston radio WEEI, via the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud. "(I) thought of that before, definitely after playing nine years in the NFL and I also thought about it when I came out of retirement.

"This is an opportunity to go see what it's like somewhere else, to go see what it's like in the NFL on another squad. There's so many players that bounce around on so many different teams. I loved my time in New England, no doubt about it. But it was another opportunity that presented."

Though the appeal and comfort of playing with Brady once more was undeniably enticing, Gronkowski was adamant that there was no preexisting plan for him to come out of retirement and join Brady in the works beforehand.

"No, we never really talked about that before," Gronkowski said. "It kind of just happened. (With) my retirement and him hitting free agency, it just kind of lined up like that.''

Brady's signing with the Buccaneers sent shock waves through the league and ignited the Bucs' fan base. The addition of Gronk furthered the excitement and expectation. The 31-year-old Gronk, who dabbled in professional wrestling with World Wrestling Entertainment along with myriad TV hosting gigs while he was retired, signed a one-yard pact with Tampa for $9 million.

Regardless of the motivating factors and how it all came to be, Gronkowski's back and he's with a new team in a new conference.

Behind him, Gronkowski has three Super Bowl titles with New England, five Pro Bowls and 79 touchdowns among many accolades and impressive stats. In front of him, well, that's what all the excitement is about.

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