This year’s 2022 Pro Bowl saw head coach for the Titans, Mike Vrabel, lead the AFC to a 41-35 win over the Matt LaFleur-led NFC team (Packers). The game offered fans a Holy Grail of awesome touchdown passes and more than a few major interceptions, as well as flashy plays from defenses unworried about hard hits.
Each year, the Pro Bowl highlights the skill and finesse of players who aren’t quite as under-the-gun as usual. This year, stars like Maxx Crosby (Raiders) and Justin Herbert (Chargers) delighted fans, while others like Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Russell Wilson (Seahawks) raised brows.
For Bucs fans, there was one notable absence: Rob Gronkowski. Despite posting a solid season in Tampa Bay, the tight end lost out to others, including Kyle Pitts (Falcons). The fact that Pitts made the roster over Gronk has left some confused—and rightly so.
While Gronkowski has a reputation for his antics (including a brief retirement and a stint in the WWE), he’s often a reliable player. And while some treat him like the NFL’s resident weirdo, he’s not nearly as eccentric as other athletes ranked amongst the world’s oddestpros.
This year, for context, Pitts has only one touchdown on his total 58 catches and 92 targets. Sure, he’s an incredible athlete with a long future ahead, but Gronkowski posted six touchdown catches in the 2021/22 season, which leaves him third in the NFL—and that’s on only 40 catches and 65 targets.
Most fantasy leaguers wouldn’t bat a lash when forced to pick between Gronk and Pitts. So, it begs the question, was the Bucs’ tight end snubbed at this year’s 2022 Pro Bowl?
The Case for Gronk
Though some are eyeing (another) retirement for Gronk, especially in the wake of Brady’s decision to retire, others are sticking to the stats. And when it comes to Gronkowski’s finishing numbers from the 2021/22 season, there’s little to indicate he’s slowing down.
He finished the season with 6 touchdowns, as mentioned above, along with 55 receptions and 802 total yards. That’s an average of 14.6 yards per catch. For reference, Pitts received for a total of 770 yards and averaged just over 15 yards per catch. While Gronk isn’t anywhere near his Patriots’ stats, he’s still a quality tight end.
Gronk is also coming close to hitting 10,000 career receiving yards, which includes 92 touchdowns. When looking at career totals, and the fact that Gronkowski could become the first tight end in NFL history to hit 10,000 total yards and 100 touchdowns, there’s an even sturdier case for him being snubbed in this year’s Pro Bowl.
Other Bucs Left off the List
The idea that the Pro Bowl missed out on a qualified pro isn’t anything new. Regardless of the sport, All-Star teams always draw questions and ire from diehard fans of certain teams and players. This year, Gronk wasn’t the only player to bring up questions—in fact, he wasn’t even one of the biggest names left off.
Fellow Bucs’ running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Chris Godwin were also left off the list. Fournette has been a consistent talent who was nearing career highs in receptions and receiving yards before sustaining a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Godwin was left off the Pro Bowl roster despite posting his second season with total receiving yards over 1,100. While Godwin didn’t post the same numbers as others like Davante Adams or Deebo Samuel, NFL fans will be watching next year’s Pro Bowl list for the running back’s name.
A Future in Free Agency
Some Bucs fans aren’t worried about Gronk being left off the Pro Bowl list. Instead, they’re wondering if he’s heading for retirement like Brady. While many are looking at his stats sheet to discern whether he could post another quality season in the league, others are thinking about his future outside of football.
When faced with free agency with the Patriots, Gronk quit the sport and leaned toward a future in pro wrestling. And considering he’s one-half of the Brady-Gronk dynamic duo, there’s a strong chance his future will be tied to the former quarterback—wherever that may be.