Buccaneers' Tom Brady Says Rob Gronkowski 'Obviously the Greatest' TE in NFL History

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 9, 2021

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 05: Tom Brady #12 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talk during pregame warm-ups prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 05, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tom Brady is widely considered the NFL's GOAT, at least at quarterback. So now that he's anointed long-time teammate Rob Gronkowski as the GOAT tight end, it carries extra weight.

"It's been amazing to watch him perform," Brady told reporters. "He's obviously the greatest tight end to ever play the game and still doing it. I think his ability to block in the run game, run routes in the pass game, win against smaller players, and then he's very clutch. He comes up big in the biggest moments."

It's a hard to find many holes in that argument. Gronkowski is a five-time Pro Bowler, four-time first-team All-Pro selection and four-time champion. He's one of the greatest red-zone threats in NFL history, and his 92 career touchdowns receptions are 12th all-time, and third among tight ends, trailing only Antonio Gates (116) and Tony Gonzalez (111). 

Gronk's 14 postseason touchdown receptions are also second in history, trailing only Jerry Rice's 22. 

From a statistical standpoint, Gonzalez makes the strongest case other than Gronkowski to be considered the greatest tight end of all time. The Hall of Famer is third all-time in receptions (1,325), eighth in receiving touchdowns and sixth in receiving yards (15,127). His longevity—he played 17 years, and was excellent until the end, catching 83 passes for 859 yards and eight touchdowns—is another mark in his favor. 

Gronkowski has burned brighter than Gonzalez during his career—while Gonzalez had three seasons with double-digit touchdowns, never exceeding 11 in a season, Gronk has achieved the feat five times and pulled in 17 receiving scores in 2011—but injuries have kept him from matching the statistical profile of Gonzalez. On the other hand, Gronk's postseason resume is unmatched by any other tight end in history. 

It's a fun debate between two generational talents, though it's clear where Brady stands on the matter.