By: Ryan Cooley
With the 42nd overall pick in 2010 NFL draft, the New England Patriots took a chance on an injury prone 6’6 giant from the University of Arizona. In college, Rob Gronkowski was a dominant TE but lacked in the durability department. His Junior year, he missed the entire season for what would be the first of multiple back surgeries throughout his career.
If not for his injuries, Gronk would have most certainly been a first-round pick. Luckily for the Patriots, they were able to get a steal in the second round.
I’ve always found Gronks label from fans and the media throughout his career to be unfair. He is portrayed as the fun, goofy, typical frat boy who just loves to party, but as a Patriots fan, I know he is much more than that. He is smart, hard-working, determined, dedicated, and fits into the “Patriot Way” seamlessly. Sure once the offseason began, he was fixed on having a good time and even rented out an entire cruise ship for a week just to party. However, once it was time for football season, he was 100% focused on being the best player he could possibly be.
While Gronk’s title as the greatest tight end of all time is up for debate, no one can deny the fact that he was the most dominant player at his position in NFL history. He finishes his career atop the list of yards per game (68.3), TDs per game (.69), and finally yards per target (9.9) at the TE position. At the end of the day, if I were asked to choose one TE for one game, without hesitation, it would be Gronk.
As mentioned before, the depiction of Gronk from the media was that of a frat boy living the dream, but Gronks intelligence off the field has been overlooked. According to Sports Illustrated, nearly 80% of NFL players go broke after just two years of retirement. Gronk has not spent one penny of his NFL earnings. Instead, he uses the money from endorsements to live what is still a lavish lifestyle. On the field he is also extremely smart; playing for the New England Patriots, players rely more on intelligence rather than brute strength and for someone to play their whole career there verifies how bright he is.
There is much speculation that the Patriots will look to replace Gronk in this upcoming draft, which I find humorous because it is impossible to replace a player of that magnitude.
I wish Gronkowski nothing but success with his future endeavors. I believe I speak for everyone when I say thank you. Thank you for all that you have done for the Patriots and not just their fans, but all fans of football. No one will forget the legacy you have cemented in the NFL.