Rob Gronkowski is expecting his and Tom Brady's upcoming return to New England to be "pretty epic."
The longtime former New England Patriots will face their former team at Gillette Stadium during the Week 4Sunday Night Football matchup of the 2021 season, their second as members of the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While Brady -- who spent his first 20 seasons with the franchise -- has gotten most of the attention, Gronkowski -- the Patriots' career leader in receiving touchdowns for all positions, as well as receptions and receiving yards among tight ends -- also expects to be in for an "emotional" experience.
“That’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be pretty epic,” Gronkowski said via Buccaneers.com. “It’s definitely going to be emotional for sure, I would say. I just had a great nine years (in New England). Probably the best nine years of my life. It was the beginning of basically 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. It’s going to be a good one. It’s going to be different.”
Brady and Gronkowski both spent their entire NFL careers with the Patriots prior to joining the Buccaneers last offseason.
Brady was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft and led the Pats to six Super Bowl championships during his 20 seasons with the organization. Gronkowski, who was selected by New England at No. 42 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, spent his first nine seasons in the organization, winning three championships alongside Brady before initially retiring in 2019.
Brady signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent in March 2020 and was soon joined by Gronkowski -- who came out of retirement shortly after Brady's decision -- after he was acquired by the Bucs via trade.
True to form, Brady and Gronkowski enjoyed record-setting performances during Super Bowl LV.
Brady finished the game with 201 yards and three touchdowns on 21 of 29 passing, winning a record fifth Super Bowl MVP Award, which surpassed his own previous record set in Super Bowl LI (2017.)
Gronkowski led the Buccaneers with six receptions for 67 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which set a new NFL record for most postseason touchdowns by a duo, as the 13th between himself and Brady during their lengthy run as teammates.
Brady and Gronkowski, who had previously appeared in five Super Bowls together prior to their most recent game, connected on an 8-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, which surpassed former San Francisco 49ers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice's previous record of 12.
Brady later connected with Gronkowski on a 17-yard touchdown with 6:05 remaining in the second quarter to extend the Bucs' lead to 14-3 and set the new record at 14 touchdowns.
The duo has now won four Super Bowls together, while Brady -- who won his record-setting fifth Super Bowl MVP -- has won seven all-time, the most by an NFL quarterback.
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