Gronkowski with the Patriots in 2017
|No. 87 – New England Patriots|
May 14, 1989|
Amherst, New York
|Height:||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Weight:||270 lb (122 kg)|
|NFL Draft:||2010 / Round: 2 / Pick: 42|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2017|
|Player stats at PFR|
Robert Gronkowski (born May 14, 1989) is an American football tight end for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Arizona, winning several awards, including being named a Sporting News and Rivals.com freshman All-American. The Patriots drafted Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft with the 42nd pick. In 2011, Gronkowski set the single-season record for touchdowns by a tight end with 17 receiving touchdowns (and 18 overall), as well as the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end, with 1,327. That season, he became the first tight end in NFL history to lead the league in receiving touchdowns. In his first six seasons, he had 68 receiving touchdowns; only two tight ends in NFL history have had more in their entire careers. He has achieved five Pro Bowl selections and five All-Pro selections, and was a starter in the Patriots' Super Bowl XLIX victory. Gronkowski is frequently referred to by his nickname "Gronk", derived from his last name.
- 1 Early years
- 2 College career
- 3 Professional career
- 4 Sponsorships and endorsements
- 5 Personal life
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Robert Gronkowski was born in Amherst, New York on May 14, 1989, and raised in Williamsville, New York. He attended Williamsville North High School for three years, playing tight end in football and center in basketball for the Spartans athletic teams. As a junior playing football, he recorded 36 receptions for 648 yards and seven touchdowns on offense, and 73 tackles and six sacks on defense. He was named an All-Western New York first-team and All-State second-team player.
In 2006, Gronkowski moved to suburban Pittsburgh, where he attended Woodland Hills High School in Churchill as a senior. Initially ruled ineligible by the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, he recorded eight receptions for 152 yards and four touchdowns at Woodland Hills, after the ruling of ineligibility was overturned. He was named a SuperPrep All-American, PrepStar All-American, Associated Press Class 4-A all-state, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first-team all-conference, The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) "Platinum 33", and a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Terrific 25" player. He was recruited by Kentucky, Arizona, Clemson, Louisville, Maryland, Ohio State, and Syracuse.
After graduating high school, Gronkowski attended the University of Arizona and played for the Arizona Wildcats football team from 2007 to 2009 under head coach Mike Stoops. As a freshman in 2007, he recorded 28 receptions for 525 yards and six touchdowns. His 18.8 yards per reception average was the best on the team and his receiving yards were a school record for a tight end. He was named The Sporting News freshman All-American, Rivals.com freshman All-American, The Sporting News freshman Pac-10, and All-Pac-10 honorable mention player.
Gronkowski missed the first three games of the 2008 season, but later recorded 47 receptions for 672 yards and a team-best ten touchdowns. Five of his touchdowns were scored in his first two games against UCLA and Washington. He twice was named the John Mackey National Tight End of the Week, including his performance in a failed comeback bid against Oregon, when he caught 12 passes for 143 yards. He set the school records for a tight end for single-game, single-season, and career receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Gronkowski was named an Associated Press third-team All-American and All-Pac-10 first-team tight end.
Prior to the 2009 season, Gronkowski was placed on the watchlist for the Lombardi Award, which is awarded to the most outstanding college football lineman or linebacker. He missed his junior season in 2009 due to back surgery, which caused his draft stock to fall.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert jump||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 6 1⁄4 in
|34 1⁄4 in
|10 3⁄4 in
|4.68 s||1.58 s||2.68 s||4.47 s||7.18 s||35 in
|9 ft 11 in
|All values from Arizona Pro Day, except measurements and BP (from the NFL Combine). Did not participate in most combine events due to a back injury.|
Gronkowski was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round (42nd overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft, after a draft day trade with the Oakland Raiders; in pre-draft evaluations revealed in May 2016, Raiders scouts had rated Gronkowski as the "best all-around player in the draft." He signed a four-year contract on July 25, 2010. The deal was worth $4.4 million, with a $1.76 million signing bonus.
During the preseason, Gronkowski was one of three NFL players to score four touchdowns, tying Victor Cruz, a rookie wide receiver for the New York Giants, and Anthony Dixon, a running back for the San Francisco 49ers. In the Week 1 game against Cincinnati, Gronkowski caught his first regular season touchdown in the fourth quarter on a one-yard pass from Tom Brady.
In a Week 10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gronkowski caught three touchdown passes from Brady, becoming the first rookie in Patriots history, and the youngest rookie in NFL history to accomplish the feat. (In honor of the feat, Madden NFL 12 has a "Rob Gronkowski Award" for players who have a tight end catch three or more touchdowns in a single game.)
Visiting his hometown of Buffalo in Week 16, Gronkowski caught two touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills, and added a touchdown in the season finale to give him 10 on the season; in 16 games played (11 starts), Gronkowski caught 42 passes for 546 yards. Despite missing his entire 2009 college season following back surgery, Gronkowski did not miss a single game or practice all season; he was the first rookie tight end since the NFL-AFL merger to score 10 touchdowns. The Patriots finished with 14–2 record and won the AFC East. In the playoffs, Gronkowski made his postseason debut against the New York Jets. In the 28–21 upset loss, he had four receptions for 65 receiving yards.
Gronkowski was nominated three times for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week, in Weeks 10, 14, and 17, winning twice and losing in Week 10 to Tim Tebow. Gronkowski also finished fifth in fan balloting at tight end for the 2011 Pro Bowl, and fourth overall among rookies. Gronkowski also received one writer's vote for the Associated Press 2010 All-Pro Team (writers only vote for one tight end).
Gronkowski caught his first touchdown of the 2011 season on a 10-yard pass from Tom Brady in the Patriots' Week 1 victory over the Miami Dolphins; Gronkowski's 6 catches accounted for 86 of Brady's franchise record 517 yards. In Week 11, against the Kansas City Chiefs, Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes, including a career-long 52-yard catch and run, to equal his 2010 touchdown total in just ten games; he passed his reception and yardage totals from 2010 in only eight games.
Through Week 11, Gronkowski led all tight ends with 10 touchdowns; his 20 touchdowns were the most ever for a tight end in his first two seasons. His reception and receiving yardage totals both ranked second among tight ends (after Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints), and in the top ten among all receivers, though they only ranked second on the Patriots, behind wide receiver Wes Welker.
Gronkowski broke the NFL record for touchdowns scored in a single season by a tight end when he had the second three-touchdown game of his career in the Patriots' Week 13 victory against the Indianapolis Colts. After scoring two touchdowns on receptions from Tom Brady, Gronkowski scored a third touchdown from two yards out. Initially declared a forward pass, the pass was later ruled a lateral pass, which is recorded as a rushing attempt; it was the first rushing attempt of Gronkowski's career, and his first rushing touchdown. It was also the first rushing touchdown by a tight end since Bo Scaife did it in 2006, and the first in Patriots history. At game's end, Gronkowski had sole possession of the touchdown scoring record, with 14, and shared the record for receiving touchdowns, 13, with Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis.
Gronkowski took sole possession of the tight end receiving record a week later against the Washington Redskins, in which he caught his 14th and 15th touchdown passes of the season; in total, he had six receptions for a career-high 160 yards. His performance also earned him his first AFC Offensive Player of the Week award, and, for the second week in a row, NFL.com's "Hardest Working Man" award. He ended the season with 1,327 receiving yards, breaking the previous NFL record for a tight end of 1,310 set by Jimmy Graham of the Saints earlier that same day. He also finished with 18 total touchdowns, 17 receiving—both NFL records for tight ends. Gronkowski's 18 touchdowns were the second-highest total in the NFL (after Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy, who had 20), and equaled the output of the entire St. Louis Rams team. His 17 receiving touchdowns were the most of any NFL player in 2011, marking the first time in NFL history a tight end had sole possession of the league lead.
Gronkowski was voted the starting tight end for the AFC at the 2012 Pro Bowl. One of eight Patriots players voted to the Pro Bowl, he finished fan voting with 936,886 votes, more than triple the number received by the number two tight end, Gronkowski's teammate Aaron Hernandez, and the third-highest total of any AFC player, behind teammates Tom Brady and Wes Welker. He was also voted the tight end for the AP All-Pro first team, receiving 44½ of the 50 votes (44 voters voted for Gronkowski; 5 voters voted for Jimmy Graham, and one voter split a vote between the two).
In the Patriots' first playoff game, a 45–10 rout of the Denver Broncos in the Divisional round, Gronkowski tied an NFL post-season record, catching three touchdown passes as part of a 10-catch, 145-yard effort. Gronkowski alone had more catches than the entire Broncos offense, as quarterback Tim Tebow completed just 9 of 26 passes. For the second playoff game, a 23–20 win over the Baltimore Ravens, Gronkowski suffered a high ankle sprain on a tackle by Ravens safety Bernard Pollard; the status of his ankle was one of the major story lines in the run-up to Super Bowl XLVI. But, Gronkowski still managed to finish with 5 receptions for 87 yards. In Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots decided to start Gronkowski, but he wasn't a large factor in the game. With only a few seconds left in the Super Bowl XLVI, Gronkowski had a chance on Tom Brady's Hail Mary as time expired, but his dive for the ball came up short. Gronkowski finished the game with 2 receptions for 26 yards, which was his lowest output since early October. The Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants, 21–17. A few days after the Super Bowl, Gronkowski had an MRI of his injured ankle that revealed strained ligaments and required surgery to repair.
On June 8, 2012, Gronkowski signed a six-year, $54 million contract extension, the largest ever for an NFL tight end. The contract included an $8 million signing bonus, but otherwise left the 2012 and 2013 seasons of his rookie contract intact. Gronkowski broke his left forearm late in the fourth quarter during an extra point in the Patriots' 59-24 victory in Week 11 over the Indianapolis Colts. Before doing so, however, he became the third tight end in NFL history (after Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates) to achieve three seasons with at least 10 touchdown receptions, and the first ever to do it in consecutive seasons. Gronkowski returned to practice in Week 15, and participated in the Week 17 game against the Miami Dolphins, scoring a touchdown. He re-injured his left arm in the first quarter of the Patriots' first playoff game, against the Houston Texans. He required another operation, and missed the remainder of the playoff. In 11 games in the 2012 season, Gronkowski had 790 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
In February 2013, Gronkowski was diagnosed with an infection in his forearm. He underwent an open procedure—the third on his forearm—in an effort to clear the infection; he was subsequently placed on a course of antibiotics. On May 20, 2013, Gronkowski underwent a fourth surgery on his forearm to replace the hardware implanted in the second procedure and perform tissue biopsies. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that doctors were encouraged the infection had finally resolved. On June 18, 2013, Gronkowski underwent back surgery. He was cleared to play for the October 20, 2013, game against the New York Jets. During a game against the Cleveland Browns on December 8, 2013, Gronkowski suffered a right knee injury after a direct hit from safety T. J. Ward. Gronkowski tore his ACL and MCL, which prematurely ended his 2013 season. In 7 games (6 starts), Gronkowski produced 592 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.
In his first game back from ACL/MCL surgery, Gronkowski managed to catch four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in a losing effort, 33–20. He played on limited snaps as the Patriots worked him back to full strength slowly. Against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2, Gronkowski logged another 4 receptions for 32 yards in a 30–7 win. Against the Raiders in Week 3, Gronkowski caught 3 balls for 44 yards and his second touchdown of the season, and the only touchdown scored in the Patriots' 16–9 victory. Through Week 3, Gronkowski logged 1 start, 11 receptions, 116 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns on only 109 offensive snaps (42% of the team's offensive total). Gronkowski broke out in Week 8 against the Bears, catching 9 passes for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns. In week 14 against the San Diego Chargers, Gronkowski became the first tight end in NFL history to catch at least 10 touchdowns in four separate seasons. In the game, he had eight receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots finished with a 12–4 record and won the AFC East. In the Divisional Round against the Baltimore Ravens, he had seven receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown in the 35–31 victory. In the AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts, he had three receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown int the 45–7 victory. Gronkowski was a major factor in the Patriots' 28-24 Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seattle Seahawks, recording 6 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown late in the second quarter. Gronkowski was fined twice this season, once for "unnecessary roughness" against Indianapolis Colts safety Sergio Brown, and the other time occurring during Super Bowl XLIX. Gronkowski, among three others, was fined $8,628 for "striking an opponent."
Gronkowski was named to his third Pro Bowl and was the unanimous choice for tight end on the 2014 All-Pro Team, receiving all 50 votes. At the 2015 ESPY Awards, Gronkowski won the Comeback of the Year award for his 2014 season.
During the Patriots' home opener on Thursday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10, 2015, Gronkowski caught five passes for 94 yards, scoring three of the Patriots' four touchdowns in their 28–21 victory. The three-touchdown performance was the third in Gronkowski's career, one shy of wide receiver Randy Moss's team record of four. It also made Gronkowski the first player in NFL history with multiple three-touchdown-reception games against the Steelers. Through the Patriots' first six games, all victories, Gronkowski recorded 34 receptions for 533 yards and six touchdowns. He added 113 yards and a touchdown on October 29 in a 36–7 win over the Miami Dolphins. In the Patriots' first loss of the season, on November 29, 2015, against the Denver Broncos, Gronkowski had to be carted off the field after a right knee injury in the fourth quarter. Initial reports said that the injury appeared to be less serious than it originally looked.
After missing a week, Gronkowski returned for the Patriots' December 13 game against the Houston Texans. He caught four passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, for a total of 10 touchdowns and 1,018 yards on the season. The Patriots won, 27–6, to snap a two-game losing streak.
On December 20, Gronkowski caught five passes for 54 yards and one touchdown in a 33–16 win over the Tennessee Titans. He dedicated the touchdown to his friend Dana Parenteau, who had died at the age of 43 two days earlier.
In the Patriots' 27–20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round, Gronkowski caught seven passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns. In the AFC Championship, a 20–18 loss to the Denver Broncos, Gronkowski led all receivers with 8 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown. Gronkowski had the Patriots' final touchdown to put the Patriots within two points, but the resulting two-point conversion was unsuccessful.
Gronkowski was selected to the Pro Bowl and to the AP All-Pro first team for the fourth time in his career; he led all non-quarterbacks in fan voting for the Pro Bowl, and received 48 of 50 All-Pro votes at tight end. He was ranked as the ninth best player on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.
Gronkowski missed the first two games of the 2016 season due to a hamstring injury and was limited in his next two games. Against the Buffalo Bills in Week 8, Gronkowski scored the 69th regular-season touchdown of his career, which was also his 68th receiving touchdown. The touchdown broke both Patriots franchise records set by Stanley Morgan. In Week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks, he took a big hit to the chest by Earl Thomas which was initially thought to be a punctured lung but turned out to be a pulmonary contusion, keeping him out in Week 11. In Week 12 against the New York Jets, he suffered a back injury at the beginning of the second half, which needed surgery to repair a herniated disk, and was out for the season. He was officially placed on injured reserve on December 3, 2016 after having surgery the previous day. He finished the season with 25 receptions on 38 targets for 540 yards and three touchdowns. His 21.6 yards per reception ranked first among NFL tight ends in 2016. Gronkowski was on injured reserve when the Patriots won Super Bowl LI on February 5, 2017. In the game, the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 34–28, earning Gronkowski his second Super Bowl championship. Despite missing eight games, Gronkowski was still ranked 23rd by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.
Gronkowski began the 2017 season healthy after missing much of the previous season on the injured reserve list. Gronkowski injured his groin during a Week 2 victory over the New Orleans Saints, leaving the game early, but the injury did not result in missing any further games. Before the injury, he had recorded six receptions for 116 yards and a 53-yard touchdown. By the end of Week 4, he was occupying his familiar role as the team leader in receptions and receiving yardage, but a thigh contusion suffered in practice prior to the Thursday Night Football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 5 caused him to miss that game entirely. In Week 6, Gronkowski caught 6 passes for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Patriots beat the New York Jets 24-17. His 33-yard catch put the Patriots in the lead as well as overcoming a 14-point deficit. In Week 12, Gronkowski caught 5 passes for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns. This was his 16th multiple touchdown game, which broke the franchise record previously held by Randy Moss.
During Week 13 against the Buffalo Bills, Gronkowski had 9 receptions for 147 receiving yards as the Patriots won 23–3. However, after Bills rookie cornerback Tre'Davious White intercepted a pass intended for Gronkowski during the fourth quarter, he responded by body slamming White, drawing a personal foul penalty and giving White a concussion. Gronkowski was upset, claiming that White should have been flagged for a pass interference penalty. On December 4, the day after the game, Gronkowski was suspended for one game for his hit on White. The next day, December 5, the NFL denied Gronkowski's appeal of the one-game suspension. With Gronkowski suspended for the Patriots' Week 14 game against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots lost 20–27.
The following week, in a 27–24 win on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gronkowski caught nine passes for a career-high 168 yards. Gronkowski caught three consecutive passes for 69 yards on the Patriots' game-winning drive, and then caught the ensuing two-point conversion to put the Patriots up by 3. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season for the fourth time in his career, joining Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten as the only NFL tight ends with four 1,000-yard seasons. His performance in Week 15 earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week. On December 19, 2017, Gronkowski was named to his fifth Pro Bowl. He finished the 2017 season with 69 receptions for 1,084 yards, most among tight ends, and eight touchdowns. In January 2018, he was named to the Associated Press' All-Pro First Team, earning him a $2.5 million incentive that was added to his contract during the 2017 offseason. The Patriots finished with a 13–3 record and earned a first round bye. In the Divisional Round against the Tennessee Titans, he finished with six receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown in the 35–14 victory. On January 21, 2018, Gronkowski suffered a concussion on a 21-yard reception during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, being placed on concussion protocol, and did not return to the game. He would be cleared from the protocol just in time for Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles. During the Super Bowl, he finished with 116 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In the closing seconds, he attempted to catch a Hail Mary pass, but failed, and the Patriots lost 33-41.
Despite rumors of retirement on April 24, Gronkowski announced that he had met with head coach Bill Belichick and that he would return for the 2018 season. He returned to practice on June 5 after skipping minicamp, confirming his return.
- Regular season
Bold indicates career high
- Youngest player with 3 touchdown receptions in a game: 21 years, 214 days (2010, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Youngest player with 3 touchdown receptions in a game, playoffs: 22 years, 275 days (2011 playoffs, vs. Denver Broncos)
- Most touchdown receptions by a tight end, season: 17 (2011)
- Most touchdowns by a tight end, season: 18 (2011)
- First tight end to lead the league in receiving touchdowns (2011)
- Most receiving yards by a tight end, season: 1,327 (2011)
- Most offensive touchdowns in first two seasons: 28 (Tied with Randy Moss)
- Seasons with 10+ touchdowns by a tight end: 5 (2010–12, 2014–15)
- Consecutive seasons with 10+ touchdowns by a tight end: 3 (2010–12)
- First tight end to have 3 seasons with 10+ touchdowns and 1,000+ receiving yards (2011, 2014–15)
- Most career postseason receiving touchdowns by a tight end: 12
- Most career postseason receiving yards by a tight end: 972
- Most seasons of 1,000+ yards receiving by a tight end: 4 (tied with Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten)
Patriots franchise records
- Most games with 100+ receiving yards by a tight end: 25
- Highest receiving yards per game average for a tight end (season): 82.9 (2011)
- Youngest Patriot with 3 touchdown receptions in a game: 21 years, 214 days (2010, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
- Youngest Patriot with 3 touchdown receptions in a playoff game: 22 years, 275 days (2011 playoffs, vs. Denver Broncos)
- Most career touchdown receptions: 76
- Most games with multiple touchdowns: 16
Sponsorships and endorsements
In September 2012, PLB Sports produced a frosted corn flakes cereal named Gronk Flakes that was sold in New England at Stop & Shop supermarkets. Gronk Flakes are made by the same company that produced Flutie Flakes. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation.
In his book, It's Good to be Gronk!, Gronkowski has written that he hasn't spent any of his money he has earned through his NFL contracts and strictly lives off the earnings from his endorsement deals and appearance fees. His salary over the first five years was over $10.0 million.
In May 2016, EA Sports announced that Gronkowski, who finished second to New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in fan voting for the cover of its Madden NFL 16, would be the cover athlete for Madden NFL 17; no vote was held.
Gronkowski is the second-youngest of five brothers (Dan, Glenn, Gordie Jr., and Chris), all of whom played collegiate sports. The eldest, Gordie Jr., played baseball at Jacksonville University, and played several years of affiliated and independent league baseball, last appearing professionally for the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League in 2011. Dan played as a tight end at Maryland and was selected in the 2009 NFL Draft, he played for five years in the NFL. Chris played football for two years at the University of Maryland before transferring to Arizona and playing for four seasons in the NFL. The youngest brother, Glenn, was also a fullback for the Patriots. Rob also played hockey until he was 14; then he started playing basketball. Gronkowski is the great-grandson of Ignatius Gronkowski who represented the United States in cycling at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, and who held five world records in that sport.
Gronkowski is known for his fun-loving personality, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being quoted as saying "Gronk is a one-of-a-kind person, player and friend. He is one of the most positive people I have ever been around and he loves to have fun. What you see is what you get and whether he is dancing, singing, laughing, or spiking, he is true to himself." Gronkowski said that partying improves his playing abilities, noting, "You go out and get refreshed, and it just makes you want to go back out on that practice field and keep going hard."
Gronkowski appeared as fictionalized versions of himself in the 2015 film Entourage and a 2017 episode of the 15th season of Family Guy, and has a role in the 2017 American crime-drama thriller film American Violence. Gronkowski made an appearance at WWE's WrestleMania 33, jumping the barricade and helping real-life friend Mojo Rawley win the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
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