It’s pretty hard to fathom what it might be like to be drafted into the NFL at all, but then to join a team where you are immediately playing with a quarterback like Tom Brady it has to be a whole new world. Even New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski admits it was like that for him when he first joined the team.
It certainly didn’t take him very long to settle in, however. Gronkowski is coming off a season where he racked up more than 1,300 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in just his second year in the league. Even better for him, the Patriots added another weapon in grabbing receiver Brandon Lloyd, which should again leave Brady with plenty of options in 2012.
Rob Gronkowski joined 590 The Fan in Toronto with Brady and Lang to discuss playing for the Patriots, the addition of Brandon Lloyd, if he knew going into 2011 that he would be a focal point of the New England offense, earning the trust of Tom Brady, the Gronk phenomenon and getting through his injury to play in the Super Bowl.
When did you realize early in your career that playing for the Patriots was maybe a little different than other places?:
“It’s a great organization from top to bottom. … It’s a great situation, going in playing with a great QB in Tom Brady and a great head coach in Coach Belichick. I couldn’t have landed in a better situation. I love playing there. I love the fans; the fans are unbelievable. … It’s just a blast and I’m lucky to be there.”
The Patriots went out and signed a deep threat in Brandon Lloyd. How great is it to have another weapon?:
“I’m excited to have Brandon Lloyd coming in. I heard he’s a great guy, great player. It’s just always exciting to meet new players coming in that want to work hard, that want to get better, that want to help out the team. … He knows the system, coming from the Denver Broncos with Coach McDaniels there, so it’s just going to be a blast. I’m definitely excited to get rolling this offseason.”
When you started the 2011 season, did Belichick come to you and tell you you were going to be a bigger part of the offense?:
“No, it doesn’t really work like that. It’s what you do in practice, just going out there and working hard in practice every day. You create your own roles on the team. It’s just going out and getting on the same page as everyone else, getting on the same page as the QBs to get open and basically just going out in practice and showing what you have, going out in the preseason games to earn a job. Whatever you show, that’s what they do for that season with you.”
Was it intimidating at first trying to earn the trust of a great QB in Tom Brady?:
“Yes, definitely. It’s pretty wild first going in. You just sit in the huddle and you’re kind of star-struck a little bit. … The next couple years now, I’ve settled in and everything and it’s just great going in and feeling comfortable now.”
When did the whole Gronk phenomenon take off?:
“When we were just all coming in together, my two brothers and I were all going to be in the NFL together and we just thought of the idea that it would pretty cool to have our own website, GronkNation.com, and everything and just have a little fun with it.”
Were there moments leading up to the Super Bowl where you didn’t think you’d be able to play?:
“Not really, because your mindset is it’s the biggest game of the year and your mindset is you’re playing no matter what. That was my mindset going into the game and I was basically just doing everything possible in the training room, rehabbing and everything, to make sure I could get out there.”
Did anyone in the organization have problems with the pictures of you that filtered out where you were partying after the Super Bowl loss?:
“That was a while ago, man. I’m just looking forward in the future, just trying to get better now in the offseason training program.”
Listen to Rob Gronkowski on 590 The Fan in Toronto here (Interview begins at 46:45)