Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski joined ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" on Wednesday morning, and while promoting the Madden 25 Cover Vote -- in which he's advanced to the second round, currently facing soon-to-be-ex-Jet Darrelle Revis -- he also talked about an off-the-field life that's become quite public over the past 14 months.
"Uhh, it's a little different," Gronkowski answered when host Mike Greenberg asked what it's like having the spotlight on him the way the tight end now does.
"I mean, growing up, just doing whatever you want -- no one looking at you, no one really caring. And now you go out, I mean, I was in the airport on the way here and it's like everyone has a camera out videoing me walking through the airport. So it's weird at first, but you can't let it get to your head at all, affect you at all. Just keep doing what you've been doing since Day 1, which I have been."
Gronkowski was so visible last year, the offseason became referred to as "The Summer of Gronk." This offseason seemed to start on a similar track, when pictures of him partying shirtless surfaced around the time of February's Super Bowl, and video showed him wrestling with a friend on a Las Vegas stage.
In that video he appeared to land on the forearm that he broke last November, then again in January, but when Greenberg asked Gronkowski if there is any legitimacy to criticism saying he could hurt his arm again, the tight end indicated that he wouldn't put himself in danger.
"Um, I mean, they're my fans. They're looking out for (me)," he said. "They're big fans of the Patriots, they just want to see the team do well, and I totally understand where the fans are coming (from) where they don't want myself to put myself in jeopardy of getting hurt. I totally understand that, and I would never do that -- put myself in jeopardy. To the max, I love going out there and competing, and performing to the best of my ability, and I love going out there and playing. So I understand where they're coming from; they just don't want to see me hurt again, and that's totally understandable."
At the NFL's annual meeting earlier this month, coach Bill Belichick gave the impression he was not happy with Gronkowski and his offseason. Some have speculated that the Patriots have spoken to Gronkowski about toning things down -- though, if they have, the tight end isn't saying.
"Whatever I talk about (with) the Patriots, we stay confidential. We really don't give anything out," he said. "Basically, just coming from myself, just got to watch out -- who's out there, who's watching and everything. Basically, I mean, I just keep doing what I've been doing since Day 1. That's what got me here, this far. I'm just going to keep grinding hard, keep working hard, and keep hustling."
Gronk spent the rest of Wednesday morning making the rounds of various ESPN programs, and was scheduled to chat online at 1:45 p.m. If Gronkowski gets past Revis in the Madden vote, his likely next opponent in the "New School" bracket is NFL MVP Adrian Peterson. Tedy Bruschi was the Patriots' representative on the "Old School" side of the contest, but he was eliminated in the first round.
A day before going to Bristol, the tight end was in upstate New York, where one of the fans who's worried about Gronkowski had a chance to deliver that message in person -- thanks to an altogether different type of offseason appearance. Here's what happened, thanks to Buffalo's WKBW.
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