Rob Gronkowski shrugs off retirement questions, says 'I'm all in'

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had acknowledged after Super Bowl LII that he was weighing his football future, deflected questions on the topic leading into the team's regular-season finale against the New York Jets while reaffirming his commitment to the team this year.

"I haven't been thinking about that at all," Gronkowski said when it was pointed out that quarterback Tom Brady said this week that he plans to play in 2019. "We're on the last game, Week 17, we've got the Jets. That's all I'm really worried about now."

Gronkowski turned to humor when asked if he'd like to play as long as Brady, saying with a smile, "He's on like year 20. He's probably going to get to like 30 years."

Then he became more serious, saying, "I haven't thought about that. We got this big game Sunday, still, and the playoffs after, so that's the last thing on my mind right now. I love the grind. I'm all in. I've been all in all season -- no matter if it's been up, if it's been down. And I'm going to tell you this right now, I'm going to be all-in for the rest of the year no matter what it is. That's my main focus, no matter how it goes."

Gronkowski, whose production as a pass catcher has dipped compared to past years, said he's "definitely" still enjoying football in his ninth NFL season, particularly "being with the guys and having that team bond."

The 29-year-old has managed back and ankle injuries this season. He's totaled 45 receptions for 658 yards with three touchdowns in 12 games.

"I would say every season presents a different challenge," he said, when asked if 2018 has been more challenging because he isn't dominating at a level he has in the past. "You go through things, you get dinged up a little bit, it's a different challenge. Or you're coming back from something different. You just have to keep on grinding, staying positive, staying focused. You can't ever get too down, then you just dig yourself a bigger hole."

Gronkowski acknowledged there have been times he's been especially down, before ending his weekly news conference with some flair.

"You just have to stay balanced. It's a roller-coaster season ... I'm back on the roller coaster, baby! I'm going! I'm here for the ride!" he said with a smile as he walked off the interview podium.