Getty Images Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski was humbled in 2016. He only played in eight games, starting six, and while recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disc, Gronk watched his New England Patriots win the Super Bowl. Winning a bittersweet title didn't stop Gronkowski from chugging beers at the victory parade, but it does cause him to be more careful in his approach and preparation. In an unfiltered conversation with ThePostGame, Gronk insists it is fun to have fun and he knows how, and more importantly, when. In related news, his NBA comparison makes a lot of sense.

ThePostGame: I'm going to start you with a question you probably didn't expect. I went to Northwestern, and I saw Austin Carr's latest touchdown, his second of the preseason. I saw you give him a high five after. How surprised are you about this kid having a breakout preseason?
ROB GRONKOWSKI: He's a good player. He finds ways to get open. He's a hard worker. He's out there all the time on the field trying to get better, off the field in the meeting. Good dude. He just always keeps working. He knows how to get open and make catches and make plays, which is awesome to see.

Carr was released by the Patriots before the season and signed with the New Orleans Saints.

TPG: You were a rookie once upon a time. Was there a veteran who acted as a mentor or someone who looked out for you during your first training camp?
GRONKOWKSI: Yes, for sure. We had Alge Crumpler as our veteran tight end while I was a rookie. He was a well-rounded veteran. He showed me the ropes. He helped me get to where I am now.

TPG: He only played one year with the Patriots. Did you feel he was mentoring the guy who was going to take over the tight end spot? How easy-going was he about you coming for his job?
GRONKOWSKI: He was awesome. He loved to see the success that I had because he helped me. He gave me pointers, helped me in the blocking game, the passing game. He was a veteran player. Just a great dude. He enjoyed watching me succeed out there under his wing, so I loved playing with him and definitely miss him out there.

TPG: Do you remember the first time you showed up at training camp and met Tom Brady?
GRONKOWSKI: Yes, I do. He came up to me and just said, "Hey, nice to meet you. I'm Tom." Just a cool little exchange.

TPG: He knew exactly who you were? You didn't need to introduce yourself to Tom Brady?
GRONKOWSKI: Well, I did too obviously. (Laughs) But yeah, he knew.

TPG: You're around him a lot and you see how strict he is with his diet. Do you take from that or do you eat however you want?
GRONKOWSKI: No, no, no. I definitely got to watch out with what I put in my body and everything. You always want to put in the top fuel for your body because you want to be a top performer on the field. I've definitely seen him at his age, how he's still playing and how he's still moving, you definitely want to pick up pointers that he's doing. I definitely do some of his program in ways. It helps out a lot that he shares his stuff with his teammates.

TPG: We only see Tom when he talks to the media. What are some things he talks about outside of football? What are his hobbies or does he just play football and go home?
GRONKOWSKI: I'm not him, so I really couldn't speak for him. But football wise, he just takes that to another level. I'd say that's his No. 1 hobby, for sure.

Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady

TPG: Outside of Tom Brady, if you had to catch a football from another NFL quarterback, who would you want to play with?
GRONKOWSKI: I'm not really sure. I liked when Nick Foles was with me in Arizona. I really like playing with him. He was an unbelievable athlete. We played basketball together too. He was my quarterback for a year. I would like to play with him again. That would be cool.

TPG: Were you close to going anywhere other than Arizona?
GRONKOWSKI: My top four schools were Ohio State, Syracuse, Clemson and Arizona. Arizona was definitely my heavy favorite. I'm so glad I went there.

TPG: What pushed you over the edge with Arizona? Was it the guys, the school, what was it?
GRONKOWSKI: To tell you the truth, I liked the football program, where it was going. I liked the head coach, Mike Stoops and his direction. But at the time, that was all set in place. It was Division I football, that was a good program, but I just kind of liked the school. I liked campus. I liked the weather there. I just thought it was the place I would fit in.

TPG: I don't think most kids from Buffalo grow up thinking, "I'm going to go to college in Tucson, Arizona." How much of that was culture shock?
GRONKOWSKI: It was definitely a culture shock. I was going from snow, and I'd fly to Arizona, it'd be 90 degrees out. That's what I loved about it. We were outside training all the time, no shirts on, with the team, with my boys, getting a tan in while working out outside. Being up at 7 a.m., it's still 80 degrees out and sunny, but the culture change, it was a good one. That's why when I visited there and saw it, I knew I wanted to be there.

TPG: I did not realize Arizona practices shirtless.
GRONKOWSKI: No, just training. We're outside playing basketball, like as friends. We're not outside playing football shirtless.

TPG: No shirts and skins practices?
GRONKOWSKI: Well, 7-on-7 in the offseason, stuff like that.

TPG: You mention playing basketball with Foles. It's well-documented you were a good high school player. Do you still play basketball? What sports do you still play now?
GRONKOWSKI: I love to play other sports in the offseason, not really competitively, but just playing around. I love to shoot the basketball around. I shoot basketballs about every day in the offseason. I don't play competitively, but 3-point games, 3-point contests, Around the World, P-I-G, H-O-R-S-E, stuff like that, it gets your blood flowing. Sometimes, I do it before a workout.

TPG: If we threw you onto an NBA court this year, how would you fare?
GRONKOWSKI: I would have to practice a little bit. I wouldn't say I'd do terrible, but I don't think I'd be ready. I'd have to do a lot of practice first for sure.

TPG: Who's your NBA comparison? Who do you play like?
GRONKOWSKI: Blake Griffin. I always said that one growing up. I like to dunk super hard, kind of like his style of dunking hard, being down low in the post.

TPG: Were you dunking in high school? Was it that easy for you? How was your dribbling?
GRONKOWSKI: Uh, it wasn't that easy, but I was doing it. Sometimes, it was easier than others. I think dunking in high school was the biggest thrill ever. In the NBA, it's like whatever because they dunk every second, but in high school, if you could dunk, it was the coolest situation. It got the whole gym popping.

TPG:l Were you more excited to dunk or score a touchdown in high school?
GRONKOWSKI: I would say in high school, it was dunking at the time. Because dunking was super rare.

TPG: Have you met Blake Griffin before?
GRONKOWSKI: Yes, I have.

TPG: Did you tell him you play like him?
GRONKOWSKI: Nah. I met him at one of his games, and I just told him I've loved him as a player and just love his style.


TPG: What NBA player would be the best tight end?
GRONKOWSKI: I would grab one of the power forwards out there around 6-6, 6-7, with a little beef on them and they'd probably be a pretty good player. I don't have anyone in mind who'd be the best, but there's probably a couple good ones.

TPG: Last year during the Super Bowl run, what kind of role did you take to be productive and motivate the team?
GRONKOWSKI: Just always cheering on the guys and do what I got to do to get better. Just doing my rehab super hard, getting ready for myself. Seeing them around working hard to be prepared, it motivated me to work hard to get better for this year.

TPG: Were you working with Martellus Bennett last year when he took over the main tight end rolE? Were you in the film room with him?
GRONKOWSKI: Oh, he's great. He's a fun character. Works hard out on the field, knows his football, super smart. Definitely a good dude to be around. Definitely wish him the best this year. He's not with us this year, but he was fun to be around when he was here.

TPG: J.J. Watt has been in the news for the money he's raising for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. I don't know if you have a relationship with him, but do you have any comment on the efforts he making in the Houston area right now?
GRONKOWSKI: Yeah, what's going on in Texas right now, it's very, very sad. To see people's lives turned upside down is pretty much wild. I can't even imagine. To see athletes like J.J. Watt and other athletes raising so much money, it's unbelievable. It's great to see that. It shows how special sports are. It shows how sports teams of the cities can bring everyone together and keep everyone going and keep it living. Sports are great. They bring people together and keep them strong.

TPG: So many things are written about you and so much said about you. They think they know you, but what's the most common misconception that people have about Rob Gronkowski?
GRONKOWSKI: I would just say people think I'm just out and about, goofing around all the time. But I always take my work seriously and put that first. I take pride in the work that I do.

TPG: Why do you think they think that?
GRONKOWSKI: I don't know. I do have some fun and everything, but it gets a little blown out of proportion that everyone thinks it's like every day. It's really not, but I love to have fun, but also love to work hard and focus on my craft and be the best I can be.

TPG: Was it Dr. Seuss who said, "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how?"
GRONKOWSKI: Yup, I like that line.

TPG: I'm watching these videos with you and Tide. How much fun has that been working with them on these commercials?
GRONKOWSKI: Yeah, it was such an easy choice working with Tide. It's America's No. 1 detergent and I felt like it would fit along with me because I'm always dirty out on the field. Doing the commercials, they were fun. It was easy and outgoing. We were filming and I was dressed as a little girl. We were trying to get the message across that amateur athletes can be just as smelly as us pro athletes, so we've got to spike that stink.

 


 

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