ESPN Staff writer Mike Reiss is reporting that Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from the NFL via an Instagram post on Sunday. After nine seasons with the New England Patriots, he is putting an end to a career in which he transcended the tight end position and was one of the league's most colorful personalities.

My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been a part of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine.

Gronkowski's 79 touchdown receptions since he joined the Patriots as a second-round draft choice in 2010 led the NFL. He had 10 or more touchdown receptions in five seasons, which is the most by a tight end in NFL history.

Just look at his numbers - Gronkowski played in 115 regular-season games, totaling 521 receptions for 7,861 yards. He played in 16 playoff games, with 81 receptions for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns -- all records for a tight end.

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