Beneath the wacky grin, Gronk is serious

by Gary Shelton on July 29, 2021

in general

Gronkowski ready for another run./TIM WIRT

He never had a day he didn't like. Frankly, most of his days have liked him right back.

He is a goofball. You love that about Rob Gronkowski. He has the twisty face, the big laugh. He catches balls dropped from helicopters. He mugs for the cameras. He grins so wide you swear his face will break.

Ah, but that's just the cartoon version of Rob Gronkowski.

The other part is Rob Gronkowski, ballplayer.

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Tom Brady helps his team focus./TIM WIRT

The other Gronk, the one who sweats, is a five-time All-Pro tight end who has caught 566 passes for 8.484 yards (plus 89 more catches for 1,273 yards in the postseason). The personality isn't serious; the game is serious.

"I think a lot of people get caught up with ‘Gronk’ the personality and don't see the worker," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians." He's in early, he hates making mistakes, he's meeting with Rick [Christophel] constantly, after practice, before practice. Like a day today, he's paying a ton of attention, he's going to watch that tape meticulously. And he does have a lot of fun, he's a lot of fun to be around. I love just chewing his ass out just so [he'll say], 'Yeah, right dude.'"

Gronk, along with his buddy Tom Brady, were two of the driving forces for the Bucs' Super Bowl title a year ago. Now, the two are trying to help get their team refocused.

“I mean coming off a championship season, that’s huge," Gronkowski said. "It’s definitely a different vibe because you have to leave that in the past. You’ve got to learn how to leave that in the past. Yes, it was great to celebrate and all - we had our time to celebrate, but that’s in the past. It’s a whole new season now.

"So, you’ve got to find ways to just put it in the back our your mind to just throw it back there. This is a whole new season – we have a target on our back. We’ve got to find ways to get better, find ways to improve, I’ve got to find ways to go out there and be consistent on a daily basis. You’ve just got to keep finding ways to step up your game because you have a target on your back as a whole and you’ve just got to keep improving. You can’t have any setbacks thinking, “Great, that’s all in the past.”

Arians doesn't think he has to worry about Gronk and Brady growing complacent.

"I think offensively, those guys – that’s never going to be a problem offensively. Defensively, it's guys like Lavonte [David] and Shaq [Barrett], and JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) have been there. So, they know what it takes. And our guys know what the film [says]. When they look at the film, they know what work looks like, and good work. If it's not good work on tape, they'll address it. I don't have to say anything."

Gronkowski has advice for younger players, however.

“I would say find a way to push yourself to another level of whatever aspect you feel like you need to work on in order to take your game to another level," Gronkowsi said. "So, if it’s getting in better conditioning – learn how to take that conditioning to another level to push yourself. If it’s becoming a better blocker or learning the playbook in more detail, then it's that. It’s just pushing yourself to another level that isn’t that big of a strong suit.”

Gronkowski says his body feels good.

"it feels good to have that nice little offseason to heal up, to work on things that you need to work on," Gronkowski said. "But [I] feel good, I had a solid three days to practice – just going out there like it was any other time. Just running around, catching balls, blocking and all that. But [I] feel good overall and ready to roll man.”

Given his years, Brady has become somewhat of a coach with the Bucs, Arians said.

"I think Tom's very, very comfortable in our locker room and with our coaches and our fans," Arians said. "I think that personality is showing more and more. We love seeing it. I told him driving in today, 'Put your coaching hat on. This is a coaching day for you.' When he can sit back and watch, he sees a lot of things that he doesn't see playing and can coach those other guys up. It's a win-win situation."

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