He is the modern-day Ultimate Weapon tight end, bigger and stronger than the great John Mackey, more imposing than Tony Gonzalez and Iron Mike Ditka and anybody else from any era, and it seems unfair the football gods steered him to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
And yet it is impossible not to like Rob Gronkowski.
The Life of America’s Party.
Spiking footballs in the end zone on Sundays, spiking one of his four brothers’ drinks on any given Funday.
Animal on the field, party animal off it.
Catching passes from Brady on the field, catching passes from adoring females off it.
The title of his book was perfect: “It’s Good to Be Gronk.”
It just as easily could have been, “Life Is A Touchdown.”
What a wingman he would have made for Broadway Joe.
The NFL’s Manchild: Man between the white lines, child off them at the appropriate times.
Belushi in shoulder pads and a helmet.
You don’t have to be a Patriots fan to want to hang out with this guy.
If there was a Honk If You Love Gronk bumper sticker, there would be plenty of noise outside Denver these days.
See Gronk jump up and down, see Gronk twerk, see Gronk dance at the ESPYs.
See Gronk pose with a porn star.
See Gronk host wet-and-wild, slip-and-slide-on-your-bikini-tops contests.
See Gronk shirtless, see Gronk wearing a wig.
See Gronk cook scrambled eggs at 2 in the morning … naked.
Up next: the first-ever Gronk Party Ship, a three-day cruise to Gronk’s own private island in the Bahamas.
“I don’t do drugs, I don’t drive drunk, I don’t break the law … I’m a 23-year-old guy just looking to have a fun time,” Gronk wrote in his book.
Now he’s a 26-year-old guy just looking to have a fun time.
And win another Super Bowl.
Here’s what some may be missing about Gronk: His goofball image belies the fact he loves the game every bit as much as Brady does, he is almost as committed to the game as Brady is, if that is at all possible.
He has become a team leader, the player the Patriots offer freely on conference calls to out-of-town media.
“I feel like every time I step into the building, definitely there are younger guys, newer guys coming in I feel like definitely asking me stuff, looking up to me,” Gronk said.
Robert Kraft and Belichick can only wish Aaron Hernandez had Gronk’s self-discipline and law-abiding respect for right and wrong. Gronk is responsible — “just walk away from the trouble,” he said once — where Hernandez was irresponsible, to put it mildly.
Gronk and the Broncs have a history, dating back to a low hit by Darian Stewart to Gronk’s knee two months back that forced him to be carted off the field.
And they have made a mistake tugging on Superman(child)’s cape.
Chris Harris Jr.’s “You gotta hit him low, man, hit him in his knees” comment may not be a low blow to the NFL’s concussion safety police, but it is to Gronkowski, who has had his livelihood jeopardized on more than one occasion.
“It’s part of the game,” Gronkowski said. “I’ve been seeing it all year. I’ve been seeing it my whole career. I’ve just got to get low, get my shoulder down, protect the ball, just protect myself in any way when I see a lot of guys coming or when I know there’s not a chance to make that many yards, possibly just go down on that play, but if you can make a play, then try and make a play, get more yards, but at the same time I’ve just got to watch it, get your pads down. It’s football, so you’ve got to be ready for contact at all times.”
Valor is sometimes the better part of discretion, however.
“My mentality, my game speed, I just like to go full speed at all times,” Gronk said. “Whatever it is, it is. It’s football.
“Everyone wants to see collisions, so I’m ready to give some.”
Gronk didn’t seem to care that his tweet — “Heard their whole team was good at giving low blows” — became bulletin-board material.
“I was just having a little fun with it, hoping to get a little laughs, which I think it did,” Gronk said. “It’s just all fun and games with that.”
It will be no laughing matter Sunday in Denver. Not even for Gronk.