It takes one great tight end to recognize another great tight end, so when retired New York Giants legend Mark Bavaro says Rob Gronkowski is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, then he’s a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.

In the aftermath of Gronkowski’s somewhat unexpected retirement announcement, Bavaro told The Salem News that Gronk is not only an unquestioned Hall of Famer, but the best of the modern batch of tight end.

“To me, there’s no question he’s a Hall of Famer,” Bavaro said. “Aside from his touchdowns (79), his numbers might not put him up with the top group of (modern) tight ends; his numbers weren’t eye popping. But we know he was the best of that pack.

“Rob sticks out like a sore thumb in the way he plays. He’s what a tight end should be, not just a guy who catches passes. Being a good blocker is part of the job description, and it’s good to see guys who actually know how to do that.”

Bavaro also believes that Gronk’s sudden retirement may turn out to be fake news, suggesting that once his body heals up, he’ll be itching to play again.

“I know he’s retired, but he’s still a football player,” Bavaro added. “He’s going to heal up from his injuries; he’s going to feel better soon. He’s going to have other opportunities off the field, and those may or may not work out. He’s obviously not going to fade into the woodwork. But once he heals up, I think he could play until he’s 36 or 37. That’s a long time to sit out of football knowing you can still play the game, having everyone tell you that you can still play, and having your last memory being so dominant.

“Everyone wants to leave on their own terms, but (football) is what he’s been doing his whole life. If he was 36 or 37 now and retiring with a beat up body, I’d say God bless him. But I don’t think he’s done yet. I think he’s got more football left in him.”

Whether Gronk returns to the football field or not, Bavaro sees Canton in his future after an absolutely dominating career. And if the tight end comes back and some point and adds to his career numbers, great. If not, he’ll still go down as one of the very best during a pass-happy generation.