Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski showed up at training camp talking like an aspiring two-sport pro athlete.
“I’m their backup goalie,” Gronkowski jokingly said, wearing a Tampa Bay Lightning shirt and hat.
The Bucs tight end gave playing goalie a try for the Stanley Cup champions at a practice in May. He played hockey through the ninth grade, he told Sports Illustrated in 2015. Gronkowski and fellow Bucs players also showed their support for the Lightning amid its run to a second-straight Stanley Cup win.
In 2020, the Bucs reeled off eight straight wins and captured the Super Bowl’s Lombardi Trophy. Tampa has all 22 starters back from its Super Bowl-winning team.
The Bucs social media team shared a video featuring several of those starters and backups as they arrived for camp. Players featured included Mike Evans, Tristan Wirfs, Scotty Miller, Ryan Jensen, Lavonte David and Devin White.
Gronkowski Sports Patriots Rings at Bucs Ceremony
Gronkowski busted out his three Super Bowl rings from his Patriots days when the Bucs received their rings on July 22 in a private ceremony.
“Ice ice baby,” Gronkowski tweeted amid the social media reaction to his rings.
Gronkowski won Super Bowls with the Patriots in 2014, 2017 and 2018 before retiring in 2019. He came out of retirement in 2020 to join the Bucs via a trade with the Patriots.
Gronkowki’s New Version of the Story
Gronkowski recently claimed he was the first, not Brady, to consider joining the Bucs.
Gronkowski told the story during The Match celebrity golf tournament on July 6. Of course, it appears that it could just be another humorous appearance by Gronkowski.
“I recruited Tom to Tampa, he didn’t recruit me,” Gronkowski told TNT during The Match, via CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani. “I told him he was going to Tampa so he went to Tampa.”
That’s where the storyline doesn’t match with what happened.
Brady became a free agent after the 2019 season for the first time in his career and left the Patriots in March 2020. He signed with the Bucs on March 17, 2020.
Gronkowski was still retired from the NFL at the moment, and the Patriots held his contract rights. Rumors surfaced that he would reunite with Brady in Tampa.
It soon happened as Gronkowski announced coming out of retirement, and the Patriots traded his contract rights to the Bucs for a fourth-round draft pick. Gronkowski figured to take on a lesser role than he had in the past — as more of a blocker.
Brady confirmed the timeline of events during The Match.
“Worked out nice, it was a team decision — how could I go somewhere and not bring the greatest tight end in NFL history,” Brady told TNT via CBS Sports. “What he’s done is unbelievable and he’s still got more to prove. You know what, the great thing about having him is when I make crappy throws, he pulls them in just kind of like my partner just did. I just yanked one left into the woods and my partner knocks it to 12 feet. So I got Phil Mickelson as a partner out here, I got Gronk as my great friend and teammate. How good is it for me?”
Brady has it good again with Gronkowski to throw for another season as training camp kicks off.