Patriots

Gronk or Kelce? The Patriots legend himself reacts to the fierce debate

Patriots

Former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Rob Gronkowski retired (twice) as the greatest tight end in NFL history, but there's one player coming for the crown, and some people will argue he's already claimed it.

That man is Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. He has played a massive role in the Chiefs reaching Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Arizona. Kelce, in two playoff games this season, has tallied 21 receptions for 176 yards and three touchdowns. 

He's arguably the toughest offensive player in the league to cover and gameplan against -- similar to what Gronkowski was for much of the 2010s. 

Next Pats Podcast: Rob Gronkowski explains why Bill O'Brien will get the most out of Mac Jones | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube

Kelce's third appearance on the Super Bowl stage, combined with his historically impressive stats of late, have ignited the debate over which of these two tight ends is truly the best ever.

What does Gronkowski think of these comparisons between him and Kelce?

"I think they're great," Gronkowski told our Phil Perry on Tuesday at Super Bowl LVII media availability. "We're both No. 87 as well. I love Travis. I know Travis, he's a lot of fun, he's got a great personality and he's always loose. What's so amazing about his game is that he's so loose. But the comparisons are great. He's doing such a great job. I have so much respect for him. So just to hear the comparisons all the time of everything that's being said, I think it's great for the game of football. I think it's great for the tight end position as well.

 

"It's a great category to be in. I would say he deserves it to be up there with the debate. I would say I deserve it, to be up in the debate. And we talked about it, and we said we don't know who's better, but we like to let everyone else decide and debate it."

Who has had the better career?

"I mean, he's got -- he's been having a great career," Gronkowski said. "It's very hard to debate that. It is a debate, for sure. He's having a heck of a career. I respect his game like no other, but I'm not here to say whose career was at the top. I'll just let you guys do that."

Gronk would like Patriots to make this change on offense in 2023

One of the reasons why it's hard to compare Gronkowski and Kelce is they are different kinds of tight ends. Gronkowski was more of an all-around tight end that was used a lot in the run game because he was such a good blocker. Kelce is more of a pass-catching tight end. You could even argue Kelce is basically a wide receiver with great size. 

Gronk was asked about the differences between them, and he gave a pretty good answer.

"Yes, exactly. We're both also different style players, and that's what it's all about is finding your style. People are always like, Rob, you block more, you're more physical, but guess what? That's just not typically not his style, that's not the offense he's in, that's not what they need him to do. So if you're going to be more successful with what he's doing, how he's used, how he's utilized under the center, in the backfield, out wide, in the slot, and if that's going to put up more points for your team, well then that's what you're gonna do.

"For myself and my scenario, if I'm lining up on the ball, being able to run the ball, have some play-action passes -- I'm utilized totally differently. If that's what's going to put the most points up for our offense, that's what I'm going to be doing. So we've got two totally different style games, and I would say that's what makes the debate so great is that we're two totally different players but at the same position, but we're both putting up a lot of points."

Kelce can add to his legacy Sunday by giving a great performance and helping the Chiefs win their second Super Bowl in four years. Gronkowski has three Super Bowl rings (2014, 2016 and 2018) and totaled 19 receptions for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the last three he played in.

 

Also in this episode: Phil sits down with Pac-12 Network's Ashley Adamson, who's also the host of the "Your Mom" podcast, to talk about some exciting draft picks coming out of the Pac-12 conference.