Gronkowski girlfriend posts loving message after retirement announcement

Camille Kostek, the longtime girlfriend of former Patriots great Rob Gronkowski, posted words of encouragement for the ex-tight end who earlier announced his retirement from the game after nine seasons.

“You motivate me to be better,” she posted on Instagram. “You show me that limits can be pushed and that challenges make you stronger. If you ask me, you’re the best to ever do it. There is nothing like the thrill of watching you play. I love you with all my heart, you allow me to take the term “proud girlfriend” to a new level. For all the people that have come up to us to tell you they are your biggest fan, I quietly smile because I know I’m yours and I will continue to root you on in all that you do.”

A second-round draft pick by the Patriots out of the University of Arizona in 2010, Gronkowski quickly became a fan favorite in New England for his thunderous spiking of the football after one of his many touchdown receptions. His arrival also coincided with the second wave of franchise success under head coach Bill Belichick and starting quarterback Tom Brady. The Patriots made at least the AFC Championship in each of Gronkowski's last eight seasons with the team and reached four Super Bowls, winning three of them.

In his final game, Gronkowski caught six passes for 87 yards in the Patriots' 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53. The last catch of his NFL career was a 29-yard gain that set up the only touchdown of the game, a two-yard plunge by rookie running back Sony Michel.

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Brady reacted to Gronkowski's retirement in a comment on the Instagram post: "Love u man!! The [greatest of all time]!! Couldn't be a better person or teammate!!!!" In his own Instagram post, the six-time Super Bowl winner said it was " an honor and privledge [sic] to play with [Gronkowski] these past nine years."

Fox News' Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report