Rob Gronkowski hasn’t earned an animal nickname as Tom Brady has, the GOAT, but Gronkowski’s time may come thanks to a gift from ZooTampa.
The zoo named a baby rhinoceros “Gronk” after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end in October 2020, which Gronkowski met back then and has kept tabs on since. Gronkowski recently commented on how much the rhino has grown in five months.
“He is so handsome,” Gronkowski Tweeted on Friday.
Gronk the rhino is up to almost 600 pounds now according to zoo staff. That size pales in comparison to the parents with the mom weighing 4,000 pounds and the dad weighing 5,000 per the zoo’s Tweet.
Upon first meeting the rhino in October, Gronskowki called Gronk “new inspiration.”
Rhino on the Field?
Gronkowski sought to be immovable often on the football field in 2020, blocking on plays instead of running routes — especially in the NFC playoffs on the way to Super Bowl LV. His blocking helped the Bucs end an 18-year playoff win drought in Washington for the Wild Card round.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians missed a chance to nickname Gronkowski rhino that day.
“That’s what he is, he’s a football player,” Arians said according to 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.”
Gronkowski nabbed the stats, too, in Super Bowl LV with six catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs in a 31-9 victory. It led to a hilarious mic’d up exchange between Gronkowski and Brady after the Super Bowl.
“Two tuddies! This is why we came here,” Gronkowski said, referring to the touchdowns.
“I was saving them for the Super Bowl,” Brady said.
Their touchdown connections put them at first all-time at 14 touchdowns for a playoff quarterback-receiver combination. San Francisco 49ers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice owned the previous record, which Brady and Gronkowski entered the Super Bowl tied with them per NFL.com’s Grant Gordon.
GOAT of Tight Ends?
Gronkowski also drew praise from Good Morning Football’s Kay Adams as the best playoff tight end ever before the Super Bowl. The four-time first team All Pro came into the postseason with the most reception yards by a tight end all-time with 1,163 in addition to 12 touchdown catches amid three Super Bowl wins at the time per NFL.com.
The five-time Pro Bowler didn’t drop off in production during 2020 at 32 years of age as he caught 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns this season for the Bucs. That’s four more scores than his final year with the New England Patriots in 2018.
The former Patriots star retired in 2019, but longtime New England teammate Brady encouraged him to return after signing a free agent contract with the Bucs in March 2020. Gronkowski obliged, and the Patriots traded him to the Bucs for the final year of his contract.
While Gronkowski could become a free agent in March, he has expressed interest in playing another season for the Super Bowl champs.