New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement, ending one of the NFL’s most dominant and colourful careers.
Australian rookie punter Michael Dickson has been named in the NFL’s prestigious All Pro team following his outstanding season with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Sydneysider – a former Swans AFL academy player – was named in the team alongside three other rookies in Indianapolis pair Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard and San Diego safety Derwin James.
Patrick Mahomes and three other Kansas City Chiefs player made the team with LA Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald the only unanimous choice in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league.
“That’s surreal,” Donald said.
“It’s a blessing. Wow! You see the hard work pay off.
“A lot of credit to my teammates and my coaches for pushing me and helping me.”
Mahomes, Kansas City’s second-year sensation, drew 45 votes at quarterback and was joined by teammates Travis Kelce at tight end, Tyreek Hill as the flex player and Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle.
Chicago also had four All-Pros: edge rusher Khalil Mack, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Eddie Jackson and punt returner Tarik Cohen.
Two players made All-Pro for the fifth time: Houston edge rusher JJ Watt and Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly.
“It means a lot to get back to the top level of the game,” said Watt, who missed most of the 2016 and ’17 seasons with major injuries.
“Obviously, it’s an extreme honour to be a first-team All-Pro, especially after what I’ve been through the last two years and hearing the things that people were saying and questioning myself at times.
“To be able to get back to the top level of the game and know that I still have things to improve on and things that I want to get even better at, it’s exciting.”
Brothers also were voted to the squad: Travis Kelce of the Chiefs and Eagles centre Jason Kelce.
“For me and my brother to both get it, it’s that much more special because I still remember us in the backyard fighting with each other, playing football growing up and we envisioned each other competing at the highest level, competing against the best players,” Jason said.
“And for both of us to be recognised as one of those guys is pretty special.”
The All-Pro team had a split of 14 AFC and 14 NFC members.
Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Running Back: Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
Flex: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Wide Receivers: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints; DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Left Tackle: David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers
Right Tackle: Mitchell Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs
Left Guard: Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts
Right Guard: Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys
Center: Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
Edge Rushers: JJ Watt, Houston Texans; Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
Interior Linemen: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams; Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles
Linebackers: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers; Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks; Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
Cornerbacks: Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears; Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
Safeties: Eddie Jackson, Chicago Bears; Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers
Defensive Back: Desmond King, Los Angeles Chargers
Placekicker: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
Punter: Michael Dickson, Seattle Seahawks
Kick Returner: Andre Roberts, New York Jets
Punt Returner: Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
Special Teamer: Adrian Phillips, Los Angeles Chargers