A Look Back at Gronk's Legendary Career: 'He Always Found a Way Back to Dominate' (Guest Column)
Posted by: Gronkowski
Boston native, lifelong Patriots fan, Gronk Nation writer and rapper Nat Anglin shares his favorite memories of Gronk's career and what his legacy means to all of New England.
His rise was legendary, he was a huge fan favorite, and while there is no doubt Tom Brady will always be the defacto mention with Patriots fans – Rob Gronkowski is in the conversation as the “other” greatest player at his position, not only for the franchise, but in all of NFL history. Gronk was a once-in-a-generation type of talent and honestly maybe the most physically gifted player in Patriots history.
It was an immaculate career for Gronkowski: A three-time Super Bowl champion. A ridiculous reel of elite plays. Some of the most jaw-dropping highlights the NFL has ever seen (his record-setting 2011 campaign is the greatest single season by a TE in NFL history). Gronk had such a rare combination of size, speed and skill it was almost embarrassing for defenses at times. I’ve gone through players of Patriots’ past and I just can’t see another athlete that was as physically gifted as Gronk. Even with some injury troubles throughout the years, he was unstoppable almost the entire time he was on the field.
Another underrated aspect of his career was his excellence in the biggest moments of the biggest games. His touchdown just before the half against Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX. His outrageous performance at the end of the AFC Championship Game versus Denver in 2015 (not to mention he was wide open for the failed two-point conversion). The Super LII loss against Philadelphia last year was a rough one for Patriots fans but Gronk went for two touchdowns. In 2019, he destroyed Kansas City’s hopes and dreams in the final few minutes of play with two back breaking grabs to seal the deal. In his final NFL game, Super Bowl LIII, Gronk all but ended the Rams’ season when he made a diving catch at the one yard line. Once again he was draped in the opposing teams’ colors. Once again it didn’t matter. Just another day for the big fella. Quite a last play in the NFL.
While it will be sad to see Gronk go, my first thought was how glad I am he gets to walk away from such a brutal game on his own terms. He endured some dirty hits in his career (yes, I’m looking directly at you Bernard Pollard) and some nasty injuries as a result. He always found a way back to dominate.
While Gronk’s preparation, training and perseverance will always be noted -- his personality might shine brightest of all. He’s funny. He’s light-hearted. He’s upbeat. He’s positive. He likes to party. He likes to dance. He’s the little boy inside all of us on his best day. The NFL isn’t just losing an all-time great player, they will lose one of the brightest personalities around. Everyone I know has a Gronk story. Hospital visits that would immediately brighten a sick kid’s day.
Huge amounts of charity work. Gronk Party Cruise shenanigans. Nights out in Boston. Ring ceremonies. Celtics game sidelines. I once chugged beers with him on stage in Chandler, Arizona, following the victory against the Seahawks … everyone was invited to a good mood around Gronk.
I wanted to say thank you to Rob Gronkowski for all his hard work on the field and off. His work ethic was inspiring and he provided countless Pats fans with memories that will last lifetimes. I also wanted to say thank you to Rob, his family and Gronk Nation for the opportunity they gave me during the 2016 season. I got to cover all the Patriots games and wrote game previews and recaps every single week through their unforgettable Super Bowl run.
On top of supporting my writing, they helped my Patriots-themed, Brady-sampled single “Let’s Go” achieve huge numbers online by posting it and playing it during their playoff run.
As a result of that Gronkowski/Gronk Nation recognition and online appreciation for the record I met some wonderfully generous folks that flew me out to the Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. Like most kids from Boston, I’ve watched the Patriots my whole life but I never dreamed I’d get a chance to witness them play in the Super Bowl live -- let alone for the greatest game I’ve ever seen. Boston area sports stand responsible for some of the greatest moments of my lifetime and within the Patriots dominance - Gronk Nation does as well!
Gronk undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of him with whatever he chooses to do. He’s been a joy to watch over these nine seasons and I’m thrilled to see where he heads from here. On behalf of Gronk Nation, I want to wish Rob the best of luck in his endeavors. I also wanted to say thank you to him and his family for allowing me the chance to write for Gronk Nation during the 2016 season. It was an unexpected opportunity that yielded some of the most unforgettable moments of my lifetime.
We’ll catch you in Canton, Big Fella!
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