Rob Gronkowski. Remember him? Less than a month ago, he was the Patriots tight end whose off-field behavior had folks worrying about what it might mean for his future as a football player, and what kind of headaches he was causing Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft.
In the wake of the Aaron Hernandez situation, though, an ill-advised DDT and some shirtless nights at the bar don't seem quite so bad now, and other than a variety of surgeries on his arm and back, Gronkowski has lately managed to keep himself out of the headlines.
But now he and his family have decided to write their own story. Literally.
Arriving in a bookstore near you today, or available right now on your Kindle, is "Growing Up Gronk: A Family's Story of Raising Champions," which is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, was written by the Gronkowski Family with the help of Jeff Schober, and purports to tell the reader in 224 pages everything they need to know about the upbringing that led five brothers to various levels of sporting achievement.
Each of them had a hand in the book, and if anyone should need help identifying the brothers, they need flip no farther than the table of contents, where chapter titles tag each with a distinguishing characteristic, as if they're Buffalo's favorite boy band: There's Dan, "the talented workhorse"; there's Rob, "the superstar"; there's Chris, the "brains and pedigree"; there's Goose, "greatness expected"; then there's Gordon Jr., of whom it's asked, "Doesn't he know the rest of the family plays football?"
The ring leader is father Gordy, the "Papa Gronk" who seems to have spearheaded the project that's summed up by the book's front flap:
The Gronkowski family is a legitimate miracle. 5 towering brothers: Three who play in the NFL - a Denver Bronco, a Cleveland Brown and a record-breaking tight end with the New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, who is realizing a meteoric rise to a spot in NFL history. Another who played major league baseball. And the youngest, an up-and-coming Division 1 football player. Growing Up Gronk takes readers behind the scenes to tell the Gronkowski's incredible story, revealing how they were raised, how they were motivated, how they trained, how they played, even how their mother kept them fed. It all started with their father, Gordy, under whose tutelage this collection of giants has broken every rule about how 21st century athletic success functions. Beyond their monstrous size, physicality, and raw talent, Papa Gronk recognized early on that a clear commitment to fitness, health, and determination would give his boys a leg up in a way other families simply couldn’t match.
This unique story of the NFL's new first family reveals the secrets to the Gronkowski's collective success and opens the door a one-of-a-kind household, a veritable incubator of athletic greatness.
Like many great literary works, the book begins with a quote from the Urban Dictionary, and its first chapter features the story of the difficult decision the family faced after Robbie (as his dad calls him) injured his back in the weight room at the University of Arizona, and was left with a choice between having surgery to fix the issue or collecting on the $4 million insurance policy that Gordy had taken out in case an injury cost his son a chance to be a pro:
“We went around and around about Robs surgery,” Gordy said. “He had choices. One was to not have surgery and never play football again but get four million dollars. The other was don’t collect the money but have surgery and hope that everything comes out right. It wasn’t an easy choice. It’s a serious operation. One slip down there and you’re dealing with the vertebrae and spinal cord.”
The insurance policy was both a blessing and a curse. If Rob elected to walk away from football, he would be financially set for life at only twenty years old. Even though he had played only two years of college football and sat out his junior year because of the injury, Rob was talented enough that the NFL was still interested. Could he forgo his junior year of college and make a leap to the pros despite surgery?
“Four million dollars is a lot of money,” Gordy mused. “With investments, I knew he could get five percent back in tax-free bonds. If he took the insurance policy, he could collect two hundred thousand tax-free every year. But if you have the operation it’s like rolling the dice.”
Rob ultimately made the decision to roll the dice, had surgery, endured the rehab, was drafted by the Patriots, and (presuming his back is healthy now) is presently in the midst of a career so impressive that people are actually interested in reading the tale of his entire family.
The whole gang, Rob included, will be at the Prudential Center Barnes & Noble at noon on Thursday to sign a book that's endorsed on its back cover by ESPN's Jeremy Schaap and the Globe's Dan Shaughnessy -- and is available in hardcover, printed with real ink, for adults, despite what any former teammates might think.
The author is solely responsible for the content.