Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski claims he didn’t know about Sunday’s two most unusual incidents until afterward.
That includes Antonio Brown’s stunning exit and two Bucs defensive backs ending up late to the Sunday, January 3, game via Canada. Gronkowski quickly deflected a question about Brown immediately after the game. As for the Canadian detour, Gronkowski had some fun in reaction to Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting’s detour to Canada as they came out of COVID-19 protocols.
“They flew to Canada?” Gronkowski reacted when asked on Sunday. “I didn’t know anything about that. That’s out of control.”
Gronkowski’s reaction is just the tip of the iceberg. Dean recapped the odd story of how their flight from Tampa ended up north of the border before getting to the game just before kickoff.
“This is going to be forever memorable for me because I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” Dean told the media.
Lost in the Air
Gronkowski told the media that he wanted to hear the story himself after being asked about it. He and fellow Bucs teammates already arrived in New York before Dean and Murphy-Bunting cleared COVID-19 protocols. The defensive backs took a Sunday morning flight.
“I don’t know that situation, I’m going to have to ask them about it,” Gronkowski said with a smile.
Dean and Murphy-Bunting’s adventure began once Dean received a call about their flight’s pilot being sick. Dean said they would get informed when a new pilot got assigned to the flight.
“So I was like, ‘yes, OK, that’s cool,'” Dean said. “I get to the airport early. I’ve seen Sean, so I was like, ‘Hey Sean, did they call you?'” He was like, ‘no.’ I was like, ‘wait, they didn’t tell you the pilot called out sick? He (Murphy-Bunting) was like, ‘what?'”
“So then, now I’m like I’m trying to figure out like is someone trying to play a prank on me,” Dean added.
Dean asked the front desk attendant about the pilot being out sick and learned the attendant didn’t know about it. Dean and Murphy-Bunting then waited around three hours before another pilot got assigned to the flight. The Bucs defensive backs’ flight began at 9:40 a.m., and they both took a pregame nap.
“I wake up, we’re still in the air,” Dean said. “So, I was like, how far is this? I don’t remember this flight being this far.”
Dean said he fell back asleep, but Murphy-Bunting woke up and asked “hey, uh, … why are we still in the air?”
The moment of truth arrived when they saw the time — 12:15 p.m. — and learned the plane took a detour to Canada.
“I was just like, wow,” Dean said.
“We landed around 12:35, so I was just like, ‘man, we’re ain’t going to have much time to warm up,'” Dean said.
Dean and Murphy-Bunting then got a ride and police escort, which got them to MetLife Stadium just before kickoff.
“That was the wildest driving experience I’ve been a part of,” Dean said. “Like we was just weaving through traffic trying to get to the stadium.”
“Once (the driver) said, ‘You guys, I’m letting you know this is going to be a rough ride because I’ve got to keep up with the police.’ So me and Sean, we both put our seat belt on,” Dean added.
Dean added that they were getting gear on for the game as the team walked out to the field. He said that’s never happened to him before.
“The hardest part was really just jumping into the game and then trying to get my flow going while everybody else has already got their rhythm going,” Dean said. “After a few plays, then I finally had calmed down.”
Dean and Murphy-Bunting tallied two tackles apiece in the 28-24 win. Gronkowski, meanwhile, had no idea where the two defensive backs had been before they hit the field.
“You know, in the game of football, there’s a lot that goes on,” Gronkowski told the media after hearing about the Canadian detour.