On the Ball and Off the Wall: The world according to Gronk

As the noted philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

That applies to the recent announcement by former New England Patriots star and still beloved local hero Rob Gronkowski (check the number of his replica jerseys still in vogue at Gillette Stadium) that he would be retiring from football…again.

The guy you should know as “Gronk” – and if you don’t know who he is you simply have to get out more – is possibly the greatest tight end in NFL history…with a tip of the hat to John Mackey, Kellen Winslow, Tony Gonzalez and, yes, Russ Francis. But sorry, boys, The Gronk rules supreme. He’s already been named to the NFL’s 2010 All Decade Team and the league’s 100th Anniversary All-time Team. ‘Nuf sed.

He first retired from the Patriots in 2019, beaten and bruised. And understandably. He had had nine years in the frighteningly physical mosh pit that is pro football, and to get a measure of that kind of body abuse, have one of your friends beat you head-to-toe with a rubber truncheon every week for over 450 weeks on end. Can’t take it? Sissy.

(N.b. – From this point on, anything written in the past tense should be taken as still potentially in the present tense.)

But Gronk is a New England legend. He was a Tom Brady wet dream when he was drafted from the University of Arizona. A monster at 6’6” and 260 pounds, he was a ferocious blocker. But what brought the fans out of their seats was his receiving ability. With great (and enormous) hands, and watching him run with the ball after a reception was almost in Keystone Kops territory, with him shrugging off tacklers until two or three defenders were needed to pull him down, or thankfully for them, push him out of bounds, where he would still be standing.

But the endearing part of Gronk was that he is a true wild child. He took everything with an oddball sense of humor, which led to him getting endorsements right and left, and even ending up having his personae used in TV shows like “Family Guy,” a perfect fit for him. He’s still in demand, and is one of the most recognizable stars from the NFL.

When the Pats let Brady abscond to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it seemed only a matter of time before he would be ringing up his old pal and asked him how he would like to come play with him again. One year into self-imposed rehab, you can’t imagine Gronk saying no to his old friend. So all that happened is that the old Pats’ Pals led the Bucs to a Super Bowl win, with Gronk catching two TD passes from his partner as they gave the Kansas City Chiefs an ass-whipping. Gronk and Brady added their fourth and seventh rings, respectively, to collections that would make a New York City diamond district jeweler whinny.

Brady has already done his own about-face on his own retirement, after Giselle no doubt told him, “Get out of the house and do something, for Chrissake.” But with Gronk, you know what he says today is not necessarily what he says tomorrow, unless it’s plumping for promo products, and say hi to Brady in his Subway ads.

Some commentators have suggested that given the Bucs upcoming NFL schedule, with a bye in round 11, that may be the spot for Gronk to suddenly join the team for a run to the playoffs, which we have no doubt would be appreciated and accepted rather than viewed as an undeserved intrusion.

But we are sure that that would offend no fans from New England to Florida. Because that’s The World According to Gronk, and we will always love ya, big guy.