Rob Gronkowski uses his time away from football in an eclectic range of activities, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end will shift gears this year with his latest offseason gig.
Gronkowski will coach in his alma mater University of Arizona’s spring game on April 24 according to the Arizona Daily Star’s Justin Spears. He will coach against former Wildcats star Tedy Bruschi, who played with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots before Gronkowski’s time.
First-year Wildcats head coach Jedd Fisch announced the plans on a video call per Spears. It’s been a decade since Gronkowski last came to an Arizona spring game in 2011 Spears noted. He just finished his rookie season with the Patriots, which took him in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
His prowess in the desert lasted only two seasons of play from 2007 to 2008 since a back injury sidelined him in 2009 according to Spears. He shined when he did play — 75 receptions, 1,197 yards, and 16 touchdowns in 22 games.
Exact coaching roles for the former Arizona stars and team names for the spring game such as “Team Gronk” and “Team Bruschi” haven’t been decided per CBS Sports’ Ben Kercheval. Arizona’s spring practices commence March 23.
The Wildcats need a boost after an 0-5 season in 2020. Gronkowski could bring that boost in a short amount of time as the Bucs know well from their Super Bowl run.
Locker Room Leadership
Gronkowski came out of retirement in 2020 to join Brady in Tampa, which brought more than a few extra catches, touchdowns, and blocks to the bay.
“He loves the game and when it’s time to be serious, it’s very serious,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a Jan. 27 press conference. “There’s a lot of talk of what Tom has done for this locker room, and it’s all warranted, but what Gronk has done for this locker room is equally as amazing. He’s just a great teammate and loves life.”
Execution and winning permeate Gronkowski’s NFL career. He played in six Super Bowls in his first 10 seasons, including the Bucs’ Super Bowl LV victory. He caught 566 passes for 8,484 yards, and 86 touchdowns in his career. He owns postseason records in receiving yards for a tight end, 1,273, and the quarterback-receiver touchdown record with Brady — 14.
Gronkowski stepped up for the Bucs with 45 catches for 623 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season. He caught six passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl.
Gronkowski’s Work Ethic
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said Gronkowski’s work ethic is “unbelievable” in a Jan. 28 press conference per WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. Arians said he “didn’t know about” that before Gronkowski joined the Bucs.
Arians also credited Gronkowski for his selfless play in the playoffs, focusing on blocking.
“That’s what he is, he’s a football player,” Arians said per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s not a wide receiver. He does have a lot of stats, but he doesn’t go into a game looking for stats. He’s looking for wins.”
Arians hopes to see more of Gronkowski’s blocking and catching in 2021 if the Bucs can re-sign the potential free agent tight end.