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Rob Gronkowski: New England not easiest place to play, but it gets “you right”

Rob Gronkowski's surprising return to the NFL to reunite with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay has given the Buccaneers another big weapon on offense in their quest to make the Super Bowl.

Rob Gronkowski got a desire to return after taking a season off. Wherever he was going, it was going to be with Tom Brady.

The two worked together about two months ago, Gronkowski said, and the Pro Bowl tight end told Brady he might have interest in returning.

“We have a great chemistry out there and every time we get together; it’s just like the old days,” Gronkowski said Wednesday, a day after signing with the Buccaneers. “It doesn’t matter if we take a month off or six months apart. We just go out there and we’re throwing the ball just like it’s a normal practice no matter what.

“It just happened to be the right opportunity, I feel like, down in Tampa. Yes, Tom is like the appetizer of the whole meal. He got me hooked when he went down to Tampa. I saw what was down there, just the opportunity to go down there and play with that type of offense.”

If Brady had returned to New England, Gronkowski said he would have considered returning to the Patriots.

“It would definitely have been an opportunity I would have looked at for sure,” Gronkowski said, “because playing for Tom is special. He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. To build a connection with a quarterback, too, is something special.”

Gronkowski was asked if, after nine seasons, he had grown tired of Bill Belichick.

“Coach says it all the time, man,” Gronkowski said. “He always says it that it’s not an easy place to play. I’m very thankful for the nine years I had with the New England Patriots. Hands down, I learned so much under that organization. I’ve learned so much football from the best coach, hands down. That will not change, the best coach in all of football, coach Belichick. I’ve learned more football than I ever have in my whole entire life under coach Belichick and just learning so much under just the organization of Mr. [Robert] Kraft, too. There’s two guys I looked up to and will always look up to. They’re the ones who drafted me and gave me my first opportunities ever in the NFL, and I’m very thankful for those opportunities.

“I’m not going to sit here and say it’s the easiest organization to play for. I’ve also never played for another organization. I haven’t even been down to Tampa yet, so I’m not even sure what to expect. But I know that the New England Patriots, hands down, it’s not the easiest place to play, but it gets you right. It gets you mentally right. It gets you physically right. What I’ve learned there I’m definitely going to take it with me . . . and apply it to my daily life big time.”

So Gronk is back, but he’s not back in New England. Instead, he and Brady have joined forces to try to win another championship with another team.