By John Tamny
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W hen Rob Gronkowski signed on with World Wrestling Entertainment (“WWE”) in 2017, more than a few outside of football nodded their heads in knowing fashion. What an appropriate next step for the then-retired NFL tight end... As the modern personification of a “dumb jock,” someone seemingly as shallow in thought as “Gronk” would be a perfect fit for the WWE’s mindless, rather escapist entertainment. Yet it seems Gronk had the last laugh... In February of 2021, he was back on the football field hoisting yet another Super Bowl trophy after having been lured back to the NFL by longtime New England Patriots teammate Tom Brady. Brady had signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2020 NFL season, and he deemed a rested Gronkowski necessary if his newly adopted team was going to contend for the Super Bowl.
Perhaps less discussed was why Brady viewed Gronk’s return as so important. That he has great hands, is 6’6”, and weighs 282 pounds is but a small part of the bigger Gronk story. What Brady really needed was Gronk’s mind . (Yes, you read that right.) According to Bill Belichick, Gronk’s former head coach, the position of tight end is “probably after quarterback, the hardest position to play” in the modern NFL. When it’s remembered that pretty much everyone who plays in the NFL is physically large and fast, the differentiator is brains. In Belichick’s words, “Rob is a versatile athlete, but he’s also a versatile guy mentally.” Most who play tight end at the NFL level can’t live up to their physical prowess because they’re thinking too much. But, as Belichick claims, that’s not the case with Rob. A football savant, football’s intensely cerebral nature doesn’t slow his own game down.
“No, I started out majoring in basket weaving but it was way too difficult. So I changed my major to journalism.” Joe Namath
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