New England Patriots

Rob Gronkowski honors former coach Bill Belichick with heartfelt tribute

"Best to do it, Coach!"

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Thursday marked the end of an era in New England as Bill Belichick and the Patriots parted ways after 24 seasons. Predictably, countless current and former Patriots took to social media with tributes to the greatest head coach in NFL history.

Among them was former Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski, who played under Belichick for nine seasons. The four-time Super Bowl champion (three with New England) shared a heartfelt message to the coach who drafted him in 2010.

"Thank you Coach Belichick for everything you have done! From taking a chance drafting me in the very beginning to teaching and showing me the way on the field, I wouldn’t change a thing! Honor to be on your team and thank you for putting us players in situations to have serious success!!

Best to do it, Coach!"

Earlier this week, Gronkowski predicted Belichick would remain the Patriots' head coach "for at least another year." On Thursday morning, however, the Patriots scheduled a press conference for noon to announce they would be moving on from the man who helped bring six Super Bowl banners to Gillette Stadium.

Under Belichick, Gronk became arguably the best all-around tight end in NFL history. The five-time Pro Bowler had 621 catches for 9,286 yards and 93 touchdowns in 143 regular-season games between the Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the playoffs, he racked up 98 catches for 1,389 yards and 15 TDs.

Gronkowski's post followed emotional tributes from fellow stars of the Patriots dynasty, quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Julian Edelman.

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