The Shady Side Of Rob Gronkowski

A second-round pick in 2010 out of the University of Arizona by the New England Patriots, tight end Rob Gronkowski instantly terrorized NFL defenses. During his nine seasons with the Foxborough, Mass. football dynasty, Gronkowski was a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time Super Bowl champion, and named to the NFL's 2010s All-Decade Team and 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was also the absolute favorite target of football icon Tom Brady, and the 6'6", 268-pounder racked up an astonishing 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns, making them one of the greatest tandems to ever play the game. And when Gronkowski retired in 2019, Brady showed the love. 

"What an honor and privilege to play with you these past nine years @gronk! You accomplished so much and our team was almost unbeatable when you were on the field!" Brady wrote in an emotional Instagram post. "Your fun-loving, inspiring, and positive energy made an impact on everybody you came into contact with! Not just that, but for as great as a player you are, you are a better teammate and person. The NFL was a better place with you in it! But I have no doubt you will be a success in anything you do!!! Love you pal!"

However, while Gronkowski was a beast on the field, sometimes that "fun-loving" beast required too much fun. Did he sometimes go too far? Let's find out as we break the huddle and throw a deep pass to the shady side of Rob Gronkowski.

Rob Gronkowski claimed he 'fixed' his CTE

During a 2019 interview with CBS News, Rob Gronkowski made a shocking admission: he estimated he suffered 20 concussions during his playing career and distinctly remembered "five blackout ones." Yikes. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a major health hazard in the NFL and has claimed the lives of many players. So, it was a bit odd that Gronkowski got into a Twitter spat with the co-founder of Boston University's CTE Center, Chris Nowinski.

Responding to Gronkowski's admission of his concussion history, Nowinski tweeted: "@RobGronkowski I appreciate and respect that you have the guts to talk honestly about #concussions and #CTE. But right now #CTE cannot be fixed- I invite your help in changing that." Gronkowski's response? "It is fixable. I fixed mine. There are plenty of methods in this world that allow the brain to recover from severe damage," he tweeted. "That is also why I would allow my kid to play football."

Nowinski pushed back respectfully. "You are right about brain plasticity, and I am glad you are feeling great today, but neurodegenerative diseases (CTE, Alzheimer's, etc.) cannot be 'fixed' or cured today," he tweeted. "They eventually win. Please come on over to the BU brain bank next week and we can discuss the nuances."

Rob Gronkowski might want to find a filter

In addition to his stellar play, Rob Gronkowski is known for not having much of a filter. And that got him into trouble in 2019, when he made a sexually suggestive remark to a female reporter during Super Bowl Media Day before the New England Patriots' game against the Los Angeles Rams.

When asked what percent he would give his chances of returning to the team the following season, Gronkowski went full Gronk. "You guys know my favorite number," Gronkowski said (via the New York Post). "You know what I'm talking about. She knows what number I'm talking about [pointing to a reporter]. Ask her. That's the answer." Yikes. But he didn't stop there, adding with a laugh, "I'll give you a math problem: What's six times nine plus six plus nine?"

Maggie Gray, co-host of the Carlin, Maggie, and Bart show on WFAN in New York, didn't mince words about the incident. "That one is a crossing the line. I think there has been a pass that's been given to Rob Gronkowski for a really long time," she said during the radio broadcast. "I think part of the pass that he gets comes with the fact he is doing this and really doesn't have anything in his past or in his private life that would indicate he actually has an issue. It just seems like an act."

Partying is part Rob Gronkowski's workout regimen

Rob Gronkowski's party life is almost mythological at this point, but according to him, partying is good for his football career. During a 2015 appearance on CBS This Morning to promote his book, It's Good to be Gronk, the New York native confessed his love for "party rocking" and explained how it makes him a better player.

"It makes you get that itch to go back out. You go out and get refreshed, and it just makes you want to go back out on that practice field and keep going hard," Gronkowski said. "When you get that itch, when you're working for like 20 days in a row, you're out on the practice field just grinding, you want to go out once and a while." It gets better. An eagle-eyed Twitter sleuth posted a few comparison photos to reveal the most Rob Gronkowski thing ever: "Gronk wore the same clothes @CBSThisMorning as the clothes he wore partying last night." Never change, Gronk.

Rob Gronkowski's not big on first impressions

Almost every college football player's dream is to play in the NFL, so when a team invites one to a pre-draft visit, you'd think the player would take it seriously, right? After missing his entire junior season in 2009, the powerhouse New England Patriots took a flyer on the giant tight end who should have considered it an opportunity of a lifetime. Enter Rob Gronkowski. 

"Rob was kind of a shot in the dark," head coach Bill Belichick recalled (via the New York Post). "He came up on his pre-draft visit, had a bad visit. We put him in a room, came back and he was asleep on the floor, didn't make a very good impression." Belichick continued, "We brought him in, we were getting ready to have a meeting with the coaches and go through and then he fell asleep on the floor —- like 'oh boy!' We got a slow start there."

Luckily, it all worked out in the end. "We traded up for him and just kind of bet that he would come through, and he certainly did big time," Belichick added.

A cheap shot got Rob Gronkowski suspended

During a 2017 game against NFC East rival, the Buffalo Bills, Rob Gronkowski dropped an elbow on the head of Bills' cornerback Tre'Davious White's head after he intercepted a Tom Brady pass intended for the Pro-Bowl tight end. The violent cheap shot, long after the play was over, should have gotten Gronkowski ejected from the game — but he was allowed to continued playing. White immediately left the game and was evaluated for a concussion.

"He could have broken my neck," White said after the game. "I've got a son to raise. People don't think about that when they react." The NFL agreed, sending a letter to Gronkowski letting him know he was suspended for one game. As the NFL VP of Football Operations stated (via SB Nation), "Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided, and placed the opposing player at serious risk of injury."

After the game, Gronkowski was remorseful, but admitted he lost his cool over the officials' lack of calls during the game. "First of all, I definitely want to apologize to number 27," Gronkowski said (via NBC Sports). "I'm not in the business of that. There was a lot of frustration. I was just really frustrated at that moment and it just happened naturally through emotions and frustrations. I just want to apologize to Tre'Davious White."

Did Rob Gronkowski quit on the Patriots?

After nine seasons with the New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement on March 24, 2019, in an emotional Instagram post. Five months later, Gronkowski choked back tears during a CBDMedic appearance, while explaining how the pain and injuries he suffered during his career took a toll on his mental health. 

"I want to be clear to my fans. I needed to recover. I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down, and I didn't like it. I was losing that joy in life," Gronkowski said (via ESPN). He then discussed how the quad injury he suffered Super Bowl LIII pushed him to retire: "I got done with the game and I could barely walk. I slept five minutes that night. I couldn't even think. I was in tears in my bed after a Super Bowl victory. It didn't make that much sense to me."

However, on April 21, 2020, Gronk was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be reunited with Tom Brady. After signing with his new team, Gronkowski appeared on NBC Sports Boston and claimed that the Patriots weren't "an easy organization to play for" and expressed his excitement for playing in the Big Guava. This led at least one reporter in the Boston area to openly wonder if Gronkowski didn't actually retire: "Brady was forced out of New England, Gronk quit ... He just quit on the team and the fans who gave him everything." Harsh.

Rob Gronkowski allegedly went wild at a benefit for...a children's hospital

A month before Rob Gronkowski signed a six-year, $54 million extension with the New England Patriots in 2012, he was ready to party. Unfortunately, he allegedly turned up too hard at a benefit for children. According to the Boston Herald (via Deadspin), Gronkowski reportedly "stole the show" at teammate Zoltan Mesko's benefit to support Boston Children's Hospital. "I'm extremely excited to support the work taking place at Boston Children's Hospital," Mesko said at the time in a press release. "The patients and families I have had the opportunity to visit inspire me every day."

The only flaw in this plan when you invite Gronkowski to attend? The benefit took place at Royale — a nightclub in Boston. According to Deadspin, immediately after the benefit was over and the club opened to the public, Gronkowski reportedly removed his shirt and things got wild. A pair of Twitter users shed more light on the sports star's alleged behavior, and folks, it didn't sound good. "@RobGronkowski Throwing drinks on women at a charity event for children the gronk does what he wants #gronkworld were just living in it," one person tweeted. However, another user wasn't that enamored with the antics, writing, "[Chandler Jones] please tell your teammate @RobGronkowski he shouldn't intentionally dump drinks on women at charity events. #notclassy #jerk."

Rob Gronkowski and those big distractions

New England head coach Bill Belichick is legendary for his penchant for running a very tight ship, in part through his hatred of distractions ... so leave it to Rob Gronkowski to cause a major one. During a bye week in 2011, photos of a shirtless Gronkowski and adult film star BiBi Jones (wearing his jersey) appeared on Twitter. For some reason, the story made international news and caused tension between Gronkowski and the Patriots organization — so much so that he had to issue a public apology.

"I didn't intend anything to hurt the reputation of anyone on the New England Patriots or on behalf of Robert Kraft," Gronkowski stated (via ESPN). "That's all, just a simple picture, that's all. From here on out, I'm just here to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the big game this weekend."

Jones also weighed in, appearing on 98.5's The Sports Hub to explain how the two had met up through a mutual friend in Arizona. "I went into the room to take a picture with him and he said, 'Put on my jersey,'" Jones said. "I asked him, 'Can I put these on my Twitter?' He was cool with it because I have more Twitter followers than him and he wanted me to get him more Twitter followers." However, she added, "I wish something happened, but nothing happened." Saucy!

Rob Gronkowski shouldn't expect an invite from Steve Harvey anytime soon

New Year's Eve with Steve Harvey featured a special guest they probably regretted inviting: Rob Gronkowski. During the Fox special held in Times Square, the wild tight end walked on stage with host Steve Harvey, saw a Lego model of the comedian's head, and spiked it on the ground, shattering it into pieces. Woah

Harvey and the audience were left in stunned disbelief. "Are you serious?" Harvey said live on the air. "I don't want to work with him no more. Why is he here? Why are you here? What is wrong with you? You're mentally imbalanced. This nut right here."

While appearing on The Rich Eisen Show later than month, Harvey was asked about the headline-making incident ... and he didn't hold back. "I'm a real honest guy," Harvey began, before struggling to find the words he wanted to say next. "Something's wrong with him. Seriously ... I don't know what it is with him." Harvey went on to note that Gronkowski was the "nicest guy," but he didn't necessarily appreciate the "surprise" Gronk had in store. "When he smashed the head, I just looked at him," Harvey continued, admitting that questions like, "Why am I working with him?" and "Who invited him on the show?" went through his head. "He's really a mentally unbalanced person," Harvey added, "but he's so big, what could I do?"