FOXBORO, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski entered the weekend with a heavy heart. But it’s difficult to keep a smile off the New England Patriots tight end’s face for long, especially when he’s on a football field.
A close friend of Gronkowski’s family, Dana Parenteau, died recently at 42 years old. But after the Patriots’ 33-16 win the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Gronk struck an upbeat note, discussing his decision to dedicate the game to Dana and his ability to make good on that gesture when he caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady early in the first quarter.
“My good friend (Dana) loved the game of football,” Gronkowski said of Parenteau. “Loved being at all my games, always had my back. I definitely dedicated that touchdown to him. I pointed up. I know he was up there watching, and I definitely made that score for him. I know he was going crazy knowing that it was dedicated to him.”
Gronk pointed skyward immediately after scoring and, after delivering an emphatic spike, ran over to take the football with him to the sideline. Parenteau apparently had accompanied the Gronkowski clan to all of his games, and the Patriots tight end arranged to have five members of Parenteau’s family attend Sunday’s game, according to TSN’s Eric Macramella.
“He was at every game with my family — close family friend — and it was just great I got a score at the beginning for him,” Gronkowski said. “So, it was amazing to do that.”
Naturally, Gronkowski was asked if it was difficult gearing up for an NFL game after dealing with such a loss. His response was classic Gronk.
“I know (Parenteau) would want me to go out there and whoop some booty, which we did as a team,” Gronkowski said. “He loved pumping me up before games and loved seeing me go out there and ball. That’s what we did (Sunday), and I know he’s up there and he’s proud.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images