New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement. The three-time Super Bowl champion -- whose 79 receiving touchdowns ranks third all-time at the position -- made his decision public Sunday in a post on Instagram. 

"I will be retiring from the game of football today," Gronkowski wrote. "My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field ... But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life." 

Gronkowski leaves the NFL on top, catching six passes for 87 yards in the Patriots' 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. He finishes with 521 career receptions, 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns as a receiver. He also scored one rushing TD to give him 80 total touchdowns — tying him for 62nd place all-time. His 12 playoff touchdown receptions rank second only to Jerry Rice. 

Head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. "His elite combination of size, skill, intelligence, toughness and ability to perform in pressure situations set him apart. Rob's impact on our team and organization was felt in many ways. In the ultimate team sport, Rob was a great, great teammate. His production spoke for itself, but his daily attitude, unmistakably positive energy wherever he went and toward whoever he touched will never be forgotten."

'Grateful' Gronkowski announces retirement

Via www.espn.com
 

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