BOSTON (CBS) -- Rob Gronkowski's "next chapter" involves a campaign to get professional sports leagues to loosen their restrictions on CBD products.
The retired former Patriots tight end announced at a press conference in New York City on Tuesday that he has partnered with Abacus Health to launch a line of CBD products, after Gronkowski said the products changed his life.
"I immediately made CBDMedic part of my recovery," Gronkowski said of his post-retirement treatment. "And now for the first time in more than a decade, I am pain-free. And that is a big deal."
Citing his countless injuries and his nine surgeries during his playing career, Gronkowski said he had no choice but to retire.
"[The injuries] took an absolute beating on my mind and my soul. I was hurt both mentally and physically, day in and day out," Gronkowski said. "I decided to walk away from the game for one reason: I had to recover."
Gronkowski said his own results have led to him choosing to make a plea to professional sports leagues to allow active players to use CBD products to treat their own injuries.
"It's just time," he said.
Gronkowski was asked the question that's been asked by everyone and anyone over the past few months: Is he returning to the NFL? Gronkowski got emotional when answering the question.
"It's crazy. I understand. I feel that love. But I want to be clear to my fans: I needed to recover. I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down. And I didn't like it. And I was losing that joy in life. Like, the joy. I'm sorry right now," Gronkowski said, fighting through tears. "But … I really was. And I was fighting through it. And I knew what I signed up for and I knew what I was fighting through, and I knew I just needed to fix myself."
Gronkowski said his focus now is on achieving optimal health, and that a return to the NFL is not in the cards in the coming weeks or the next month.
However, Gronkowski left the door open to a return to playing football, if he feels healthy enough at a later date.
"I truly believe I can get to another level with my body, and I'm just in the first stage right now," Gronkowski shared. "When that time comes down in the future, if I have the desire to play football again, if I feel passionate about football again, if I'm feeling like I need to go back on the field, I will go back to football. But as of right now, that is not the case. It could be the case in six months, it could be the case in two years, it could be the case in three years, it could be the case in three months. But I truly don't see it in the foreseeable future, in like a week or a month. No. I want to do a different chapter of my life right now."
If he did want to return, he would have to give up his new business as cannabis-related business partnerships are against league rules.
Gronkowski shared a personal story about the types of injuries he played through, discussing a hit to his quad he endured during a Super Bowl. Gronkowski finished the game and won a championship, but that was jut the start of the pain.
"I was in tears in my bed after a Super Bowl victory. ... It didn't make much sense to me," Gronkowski said. "I couldn't sleep for more than 20 minutes a night, after a Super Bowl win. And I was like damn, this sucks. It didn't feel right."
Gronkowski said that in three separate hospital visits, 1000 milliliters of blood was drained from his leg.
"It's not normal. It was like record-breaking at the hospital," Gronkowski said. "I was like, you know I like to break records -- which I do, I think I broke records on and off the field non-stop, with injuries and everything. That's what I do."
CBD is not FDA-approved. In a statement, the FDA said, "There are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD...There is very limited available information about CBD, including about its effects on the body."
Dr. Benjamin Caplan spends his career educating patients on cannabis products. "I think he is a smart man. I mean, he is a businessman and he knows that athletes are already using cannabis," he said.
Tuesday's press conference was initially announced on Aug. 13, immediately leading to speculation regarding what Gronkowski's "next chapter" might be.
Gronkowski, who turned 30 in May, retired from football after completing his ninth season. He was originally drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Patriots, for whom he caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns during his Hall of Fame career. He also added 81 playoff receptions for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 games played, helping the Patriots to wins in both Super Bowl XLIX and LIII.
Talk of a potential Gronkowski retirement began during the offseason prior to the 2018 season, but Gronkowski ultimately decided to play. He announced his retirement in late March of this year, after making a diving catch to set up the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl LIII against the Rams.
Gronkowski also announced a new name for himself.
"Now, you can just call me Mr. Recovery," Gronkowski said. "You know you like that name. Mr. Recovery, baby!"
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