James Harrison Says Rob Gronkowski Spoke About Returning to NFL in November

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2020

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Former NFL player Rob Gronkowski looks on prior to Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Rob Gronkowski didn't announce his NFL comeback until April, but James Harrison knew it was coming five months earlier.

Harrison said Gronk, 30, was talking about a comeback when they filmed their "Golden Gronks" skit, which later aired before Super Bowl LIV.

"I knew then that he was going to come back," Harrison told TMZ Sports. "He was talking about it. He was itching then. He was feeling a lot better. You get a year off, you get to heal your body...that whole process was not a surprise to me."

The New England Patriots traded him to Tampa as part of his deal to unretire and reunite with Tom Brady, who signed with the Buccaneers in March.

"I said it from the beginning that I wouldn't come back unless if I'm feeling it, unless if I'm feeling good, feeling healthy and I'm feeling like I'm ready to go. And now this is the case. This is the time," the tight end said, per Jenna Laine of ESPN. "My body, 100 percent, needed a rest. I didn't have that fire underneath me. But I knew I loved the game of football."

Bucs coach Bruce Arians said Brady was "adamant" in pushing for Gronk's return. Brady, 42, showed marked signs of decline in the 2019 season, which is likely no coincidence given Gronkowski's retirement and the Patriots' inability to replace him. With Gronk, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the roster now, though, everything lies on Brady in making Tampa one of the NFL's best offenses.