It's been quite a summer for Rob Gronkowski. The New England Patriots' tight end has been all over the place, partying with other celebrities, enjoying the fame that he's earned. He's doing everything a twentysomething sports hero with millions of dollars should be doing, and while he hasn't filled the massive Manziel-shaped hole that Johnny Football's abstinence from anything fun this summer has left behind content-wise, Gronk has certainly given us a few moments.
In many ways, Gronk is a far more likable version of Manziel. Like Johnny was in 2013 and 2014, Gronk's the guy we debauchery-loving males live vicariously through, only it's easier to do so with Gronk, because Gronk is easy to root for. He's Johnny without the air of entitlement.
Hell, Gronk even wrote a book this summer! (To be fair to his ghostwriter, Gronk probably recounted several stories over a bottle of tequila and his co-author polished them up and made a book out of them.) I'll be honest, I didn't even know Gronk read books, let alone wrote them!
The book is appropriately titled It's Good to Be Gronk, and the ironic part about the book is that, while the title is probably summarily accurate, you get a real window into some of the pain Rob Gronkowski has had to endure to get to where he is today.
We all knew about the horrific knee injury of 2013. There's also the broken arm he sustained in 2012. But it's the story about the back injury he suffered at the University of Arizona where you really gain some respect for what Gronk is all about. According to an excerpt from the book, after a weight-lifting mishap in 2009, Gronkowski had the chance to cash in on a $4 million injury insurance policy or keep playing. He chose to keep playing.
Not only did Gronk choose to keep playing, but he had to endure the mental and physical toll of coming back from ruptured disk surgery that yielded this description in the book:
An MRI on my back showed a badly ruptured disk that was damaging the nerves in my spinal cord. I got a first, second and third medical opinion. Dr. Robert Watkins, a specialist in California, laid out a two-step approach for me. First I would try physical therapy to rehab the back. If that didn’t work I would have surgery to remove the part of the disk that was sticking out into the nerves in my spinal cord. If the nerves wouldn’t heal from the injury, I would have permanent damage to my legs. I couldn’t believe it had gotten this bad.
Now I had to hope that by working crazy hard in rehab, I could fix my back in time to play that season. There was another option, though: I could retire and collect the $4 million insurance, tax-free, at the age of 19 . . . but that would mean I couldn’t play football anymore. I did the calculations, and at four percent annual interest I could make $160,000 a year without touching the $4 million principal. But I didn’t want the easy money. I wanted to earn it, playing football. Maybe a lot of people would take the money and run, but I looked at it as quitting. I was happy playing football and didn’t want to give that up. So I decided to try physical therapy. It was a long shot, but I had to try.
He goes on to describe his entire journey to the NFL from there, which included an excruciating decision to forego his college eligibility and go straight to the NFL after rehabbing the injury, and included the glorious day he became a New England Patriot. While we laugh about Gronk's exploits in a summer like the one he's had in 2015, it's hard not to look at him as an example of the old adage that "everything happens for a reason." A fully healthy Gronkowski in 2009 and 2010 probably winds up drafted in one of the other 31 cities and not by the perfect team with the perfect quarterback for him.
So today, we celebrate the "Summer of Gronk" with the definitive video anthology of his 2015 world tour…
BUT FIRST, we begin the Summer of Gronk World Tour with this Public Service Announcement from Gronk on what he thinks about the Deflate-Gate controversy. When Gronk someday gets signed to WWE, this video may be the reason why…..
Now onto the Summer of Gronk…. hey look! It's Gronk motor boating a chick in South Carolina!
We now take a brief timeout for a word from our sponsor, Dunkin Donuts! Hey, look, it's Gronk and David "Big Papi" Ortiz on a tandem bike….
Now, back to the program…. hey, look, it's Gronk spiking champagne bottles off of Charlotte McKinney's butt!
Now another word from our sponsor, Dunkin Donuts… hey, wanna hear Gronk and Big Papi doing some club music? Sure you do!
Hey, did you hear Gronk won an ESPY last night? Well, he did….
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Be sure to watch Gronk this Sunday, 7:00 p.m. on ABC on Celebrity Family Feud!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.