I don’t think Rob Gronkowski is ever going to play for the Patriots again.

Am I sure? Pretty sure.

Even though Gronk keeps cracking open the door, sticking his head in the room, waggling his eyebrows then slinking back out, I believe he's done for good.

But I believe he’s replaced the game of football with the game of marketing and I don’t blame him a bit.

You know he’s playing with us. I know he’s playing with us. Most of all, he knows he’s playing with us.

But he also knows the best way to help his brand is by remaining “retired — BUT MAYBE JUST FOR NOW!!! — NFL superstar Rob Gronkowski.”

That’s why all promotions for Gronk’s Tuesday morning press conference to announce his “next chapter” teased the uncertainty swirling around whether or not he’ll return.

“Will he be announcing that he’s coming back to football in November?!?!?!”

Everyone crowded into the Internet tent to watch the streaming feed and found the answer is … no.

Gronk is actually THE NEW SPOKESPERSON FOR ABACUS HEALTH PRODUCTS!!

As for football? If he feels passionate again about the game, he’ll play.

And when might that be?

"It could be the case in 6 months, it could be the case in 2 years, it could be in 3 years ... But I truly don't see it in the foreseeable future."

 

He added, “Physically, I could do it. But mentally, it’s not there. ... If I’m just enjoying my life... maybe never.”

So anywhere between six months and three years. Maybe. Possibly. Not sure.

Keep dangling that carrot in front of our noses. We’ll keep sniffing at it. Don’t you worry.

I don’t fault Gronk a single bit for preying on the hope and gullibility of the media and public.

Gronk Inc. exists because of the talent and sweat equity he put in as a football player. All those injuries and surgeries he withstood from the time he was at the University of Arizona until February? That was the cost of doing business to build a unique brand.

He’s supposed to close up shop and take all the Gronk off the shelves just because he’s not playing in the NFL anymore? Yeah, no.

Now, it’s really time to sell what he built without having to clear it with a coach, an owner or a league office.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON GRONK IN QUICK SLANTS THE PODCAST: 

Maybe he’ll miss the attention, the camaraderie, the competition.

Maybe he’ll go through part of the 2019 season and hear adulation for players he knows he’s better than and get a little jealous.

Maybe his former teammates will need him and he’ll feel compelled to help them.

Maybe he’ll be able to get his brain around the specter of knowing that, every time he runs down the seam and looks back to see a Tom Brady pass floating his way, what happens next may land him in a hospital bed with a destroyed knee, addled organs or a misfiring brain.

But I don’t think so. I think he’s going to keep being Gronk and hawking painkillers and stay the hell away from the pain. He’s got nothing left to gain.

Brady's take on the challenge of replacing Gronk>>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.