Arguably the most likable player in NFL history announced his retirement this weekend, and I’m not sure there’s a single fan who won’t miss witnessing his transcendent talent. Gronk is hanging up the cleats a month before his 30th birthday, and to commemorate eight years he’s blessed us with his Gronkness, I thought I’d put together a few anecdotes and personality traits that make the four-time First Team All-Pro a horse of a different color.
“To this day, I still haven’t touched one dime of my signing bonus or NFL contract money,” he wrote in his book It’s Good To Be Gronk. “I live off my marketing money and haven’t blown it on any big-money expensive cars, expensive jewelry or tattoos and still wear my favorite pair of jeans from high school.”
Donna Spigarolo, the team’s director of community relations, once claimed that Gronk goes way above and beyond the team mandated charity requirements.
“If I call him to do something, he’ll do it for me. His enthusiasm is contagious, no matter where he goes, and he always brings a smile to the room. It’s a joy to work with him.”
Gronk was awarded the Ron Burton Community Service Award by the Patriots in 2016 for his plentiful charity work that he rarely publicizes.
He’s frequented Boston Children’s Hospital as part of his partnership with One Mission, a charity that supports pediatric cancer patients and their families. He’s visited marathon bombing victims, shooting victims, and showed up unannounced to the hospital during the holiday season wearing an elf costume. He’s participated in Thanksgiving Goodwill events, holiday charity events and auctions, Department of Defense events (while in season) in support of families who are having tough times adjusting to having loved ones overseas, and has started his own youth foundation.
In an excerpt from his 2015 book, It’s Good to Be Gronk, the legendary tight end described a typical night of partying:
There was always a party going on at our place. Our deal was we had to have what we called a pregame party, where we had a few girls come over and start the drinking, dancing, and just getting wild. Then we would go to wherever the happening party was, and when that was over we would come back to our place for the after party. I was always hungry by the time we came back for the after party, so for whatever reason, one I really can’t explain, every party night you could find me cooking scrambled eggs totally naked at 2 or 3 a.m. I made them for the whole crew as the designated egg maker.
Patriots punter Ryan Allen said of Gronk:
“Whenever we go places, he’s a very loyal and hospitable friend. He really is. And that’s something no one probably really sees because 90 percent of the time Gronk’s too big of a face to be in front of many people to let loose. If he gives them an inch, they’ll take a mile.”
GRONK IS GRONK, ALL THE TIME.
“The guy you see is the same dude we see,” wideout Phillip Dorsett said. “He’s Rob Gronkowski, one of the best teammates to be around. And he doesn’t change.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go cry in a conference room.