After nine seasons with the New England Patriots, Robert "Rob" Gronkowski announced his retirement on March 24, 2019. "Now its [sic] time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for [the] rest of my life," he wrote, in part, in a statement posted to his Instagram.
The record-breaking athlete would be remembered — not only for his three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots — but for his enthusiasm on the field and his dedication to the sport, which included an insane workout regimen that leaves us out of breath from just thinking about it. So what’s next for the Buffalo, N.Y. native? Will he finally seal the deal with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, former New England Patriots cheerleader Camille Kostek? Will he try his hand at being an action movie star, like The Eagle Tribune predicted?
We’re not entirely sure, but what we do know is that Gronkowski will go down in history as the "greatest tight end in NFL history," according to USA Today. While the sports world is still reeling over the news that he’ll hang up his no. 87 jersey and cleats to venture out into the unknown, we thought we’d share some obscure facts about the man who played hard and partied even harder.
Here’s the untold truth of Rob Gronkowski.
Roughhousing shaped the lives of these ‘monster athletes’
Growing up as one of five sons to Gordon Gronkowski Sr. and Diane Walters, Rob Gronkowski was surrounded by what Esquire described as "monster athletes." Despite the endless amount of testosterone raging throughout the Gronkowski household, the unparalleled competitor told ESPN his childhood "was a blast." But he also admitted his three older brothers would get physical with him, and their parents allowed it. "They wouldn’t break it up because they would get hit if they tried to get in the middle of it," he said.
There was a bright side, though. All of the roughhousing made him physically and "mentally tough." Besides, it wasn’t like he was going to really get hurt. His dad set some strict rules to along with the madhouse: "You can never ever throw a punch in the face or to the nuts, everything else went," Rob told Uninterrupted’s Kneading Dough. Fair.
As they got older, the Gronk boys infused that energy into their professional careers, taking the sports world by storm by following in their dad’s footsteps, a former football player for Syracuse University, Men’s Journal reports. Rob’s eldest brother, Gordon "Gordie" Gronkowski, Jr., played major and minor league baseball, and brothers Dan, Chris, and Glenn Gronkowski each had stints in the NFL, according to Gronk Nation.
He and his siblings were ‘mistakes,’ according to his dad
After his parents, Gordon Gronkowski Sr. and Diane Walters got married (they would later divorce in 2008, according to Today), they didn’t necessarily have a plan in place on how they would proceed in life as a married couple. They definitely didn’t have a goal on how many children they would conceive, either. In a startling confession to Esquire, Gordon admitted Rob Gronkowski and his four brothers "were all mistakes, if you want to put it that way." Now we know where Rob gets his bluntness from!
Gordon attempted to clean up that admittedly harsh-sounding statement by adding, "I shouldn’t say mistakes. That sounds terrible. None of them was a mistake. God gifted us with them. Unplanned, let’s use that," he said. Okay. Better. Sort of.
Those unplanned births turned life into "total hell" — as Rob’s brother Chris put it — for Gordon Sr. as he struggled to make ends meet, but he eventually experienced success when he opened "his first gym-equipment store with his brother as his partner." Rob and the rest of Gordon Sr.’s mistakes — ahem, we mean sons — have joined his gym equipment empire, now known as Gronk Fitness Products.
He’s not big on books
Rob Gronkowski is proud that he attended the University of Arizona as an undergrad — a school which he, and Rave Reviews, concluded to be one of the top party schools in America. We have no doubt he kept his head in the books when he wasn’t at football practice, but was he actually reading the literature? Not a chance.
During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Gronkowski claimed he hadn’t read a book since ninth grade, "When they made me — you know, you don’t raise your hand, but they call on you?" he said. He was clearly joking, right? We’re not sure, actually, since he then tried to recall the title of said book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by referring to it as both "A Mocking to Remember" and "A Mockingbird to Remember." Oh. Em. Gee.
But he penned his own memoir, It’s Good to Be Gronk. Surely, he read it since he wrote it, right? Wrong! He admitted to Maria Menounos during a Sirius XM interview he had only read "about like 80 percent of it." Well, who needs books anyway, when your college major is fiesta?
However, there was one book he couldn’t put down, the one that really mattered to him: his Patriots playbook. "There are so many plays, so many coverages. You just want to learn the game of football, to learn as much as you can," he told Sports Illustrated.
Rob Gronkowski was the life of the party while attending the University of Arizona. He and his brothers even turned their off-campus home into party central, affectionately known as "Club G," according to his book, It’s Good to Be Gronk. Even after his college days came to an end, he still returned to his old stomping grounds to get turnt up with the co-eds.
On one particular occasion during his time as an undergrad, he hung up his party hat to help his friend work security at a bachelorette party. Gronkowski told Conan that he took the gig seriously and even donned a suit and tie. Still, the 35 women at the shindig began feeding him alcohol. "They were making me drink their beers. So I was participating. I was getting wasted on the side," he said. Sounds about Gronk. And then, they goaded him to drop trou. "Next thing you know, I’m taking off my tie, unbuttoning my shirt, taking my pants off — I’m in my boxers only. And I’m just giving these lap dances out to these ladies," he said.
Tom Brady gave him the shakes
Rob Gronkowski had just turned 21-years-old when he entered the National Football League, according to Pro Football Reference, and he had the honor of playing alongside a man who, at that time, had already won one Super Bowl ring, Tom Brady. The pressure to perform was intense, even during warm-up practices. "I still remember that I was shaking the first time [Brady] threw me a pass. I was like, ‘I’ve gotta catch this, I’ve gotta catch this," Gronkowski told ESPN. "It was just a 10-yard pass."
He added that he "almost dropped" the pigskin because he was "so nervous." His sub-par practice sessions during those early days didn’t impress Brady, either. "He always used to yell at me and get on my case. I was like, ‘Man, this dude, why is he coming at me like that?’" Gronkowski said. Brady later approached Gronk, told him he loved him, and said he saw "a lot of potential" in him. Brady just wanted to make sure they were "on the same page." At that moment, Gronkowski said something clicked in him, and his performance turned around for the better.
The bumpy start to their working relationship is now a distant memory, partially because Gronk is a pro at following his QB’s demands.
He’s retiring a rich man
By the time Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement in March 2019, he was 29 years old — the age when most football tight ends experience a sharp decline in performance, according to FF Today. Considering Gronkowski was sidelined by "back and ankle issues" in the years leading up to his retirement, according to Forbes, it wasn’t a complete shock that he decided to pull the plug when he did. But will he be able to survive without a multi-million dollar football contract? You betcha.
He made some very smart moves throughout his career, dating back to when he first joined the Patriots in 2010. In a 2018 interview with Business Insider, Gronk revealed he hadn’t spent any of the money he had earned while playing professional football, which was nearly $54 million over nine seasons, according to Spotrac. Instead, he lived off of his paid sponsorships and endorsement earnings, which were all managed by his two older brothers, Chris and Dan Gronkowski, and their dad, Gordon Gronkowski Sr., through the family business, InSite Media Services.
So, how much was he raking in from working with big-name brands, like JetBlue and Dunkin’ Donuts? A cool $3.5 million in 2015, according to a tweet posted by ESPN sports and business analyst, Darren Rovell.
He wears his clothes ‘down to the rags’
Remember we mentioned he’s really good with money? Come to find out, Rob Gronkowski doesn’t need that much money to get by at all. In an interview with Uninterrupted, he told the show’s host that his "broke habit" is his clothes and shoes. What did he mean exactly? According to the star player, if he likes certain clothing items, he’ll wear them "down to the rags." Even his favorite pair of jeans get worn for seven days in a row, but he makes sure to toss them in the wash on day three. Thank goodness.
As for where this habit of stretching out his clothes came from, he attributed it to growing up in a household of all-boys and wearing his older bros’ old ‘fits. "Whatever my brothers had — hockey equipment, baseball equipment, even clothes — [my parents] used to just hand it down to us kids," he explained. "That’s why I just feel like I have no problem ever just wearing the same shirt, wearing the same jeans, shorts, until I totally got to finally get rid of them."
He finally splurged on some big purchases
Rob Gronkowski is conservative when it comes to his dough, but he also goes ham every now and then. After he borrowed his friend’s "chain," and wore it out to a party, he understood why some people spend a lot of money on jewelry. But, in classic Gronk fashion, he thought long and hard before making such a big purchase. "So then, in the back of my head, I said, ‘If I hit all my incentives, if I do everything I need to do, get all my bonuses, put all the work in, I’ve gotta finally treat myself," he told Uninterrupted.
After eight seasons in the league, he finally splurged on a sparkly investment piece, which he proudly showed off during the interview.
That wasn’t the only time he bucked his strict money-saving habit and made a pricey purchase. The party lover likely didn’t think twice when he and his crew racked up a tab of $102,407 during one night of fun at Shrine at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, according to TMZ.
Gronk and his pals guzzled "160 bottles of champagne," and 16 bottles of Grey Goose vodka, to name a few items. Although it was unclear if Gronk actually paid the tab or if the casino comped the big spender, it’s still one heck of an expensive lituation!
Would he come back for Brady?
Former football player and WWE wrestler, who just so happens to be Rob Gronkowski’s best friend, Mojo Rawley (born Dean Muhtadi), spoke to TMZ Sports about the rumors Gronkowski would join the WWE after his football retirement. "It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of WHEN," Rawley said. But let’s not count out a return to football, especially since Gronkowski is uber-dedicated to New England Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady. Prior to his March 2019 retirement, Gronkowski told ESPN, "Out on the field, we have great chemistry and a great connection."
And when given the opportunity, he has never hesitated to boast about Brady’s top-notch work ethic. "It’s just unreal, what he’s been accomplishing, how he’s still going and how he looks," he told Sports Illustrated.
According to Adam Schefter, an ESPN insider, Gronkowski’s devotion to Brady may be the reason why he returns to the field one day. Schefter quoted Gronkowski’s longtime agent, Drew Rosenhaus, as saying, "If the team was struggling or they needed him at some point next year, and let’s just say hypothetically Tom Brady gave him a call and said ‘Rob, I need you.’ I wouldn’t be shocked if he came back to play a few games."
For now, Gronkowski has put in his time, and we wish him the best wherever life takes. To us, and to Brady and the rest of the sports world, he’ll always be the "GOAT" — better known as the "greatest of all time."