Former New England Patriots great Rob Gronkowski left the door open—just a little—to potentially returning to the National Football League someday. But for now, the man known simply as “Gronk” to legions of fans says he’s ready to be the new face of a CBD company.
Gronkowski, who retired from the Patriots earlier this year at the age of 29, announced Tuesday at a news conference in New York that he is partnering with Abacus Health Products, a company that makes a line of CBD-derived topicals and ointments.
CBD is banned by the NFL, as well as other major professional sports leagues—a point that Gronkowski addressed.
“I’m advocating for CBD to be acceptable for all players for recovery,” he said. “You can just call me Mr. Recovery. You know you like that name. Mr. Recovery, baby.”
In his nine-year playing career, all with the Patriots, Gronkowski was a four-time all-pro and won three Super Bowls, all while carving out a legacy as one of the most dominant to ever play the tight end position. But his career was also marked by significant injuries, which slowed him down on the field and ultimately led to his early retirement.
At the event announcing his partnership with Abacus, Gronkowski grew emotional when reflecting on the physical toll that football took on him.
“I needed to recover,” Gronkowski said while fighting back tears. “I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down, and I didn’t like it.”
“During that time, I had countless injuries and nine surgeries, which took an absolute beating on my body and my soul,” he added. “I was hurt both mentally and physically, day in and day out. I decided to walk away from the game for one main reason: I had to recover.”
Gronkowski said that Abacus’ line of CBD products helped treat his pain, telling the members of the press gathered on Tuesday that he was “blown away with how well it worked.”
“I am pain free, and that is a big deal,” he said.
But does that mean he may return to the gridiron? Gronkowski didn’t entirely rule it out.
“Physically, I can do it. Mentally, desire-wise, I can’t,” he said, adding that he’d consider a return should that change.
“That’ll be the time. It may be never,” Gronkowski said. “But you know me.”
After it was founded in 2014, Abacus began distributing its line of CBD products under the brand name “CBD Clinic” in 2016. The company later changed the brand’s name to “CBDMEDIC.” In a quote featured on a promotional ad on the brand’s website, Gronkowski said, “I wish I had been able to use CBDMEDIC while I was playing.”
The partnership comes at a time when an increasing number of former professional athletes are both wading into the cannabis industry and emerging as advocates for its medicinal value. And Gronkowski’s appeal to sports leagues to reconsider drug policies comes at a moment when the NFL is studying the benefits of medical marijuana.
“I’m here today to appeal to the sports-governing bodies of the world to update their position on CBD whether that’s the NBA, MLB, or NFL,” Gronkowski said Tuesday. “It’s just time.”