FOXBORO, Mass. — Though Bills fans were forced to turn on Rob Gronkowski when he was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2010, the tight end is still Buffalo’s native son.
Gronkowski was born in Amherst, N.Y., and went to Williamsville North High School before moving to Pittsburgh for his senior year. He grew up going to Bills games at New Era Field and even competed in a punt, pass and kick competition when he was “around 10 years old.”
So, is the comfort of playing in his hometown why Gronkowski always seems to obliterate the Bills at New Era Field?
Gronkowski has 35 catches for 583 yards with seven touchdowns in six games in Buffalo. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a 129.7 passer rating while targeting Gronk at the field formerly known as Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“I mean, it’s always challenging going in there and just growing up, where you’re from — just about 20 minutes away from the stadium — and going to games growing up and everything,” Gronkowski said Thursday. “I would say just being able to go there gets your juices flowing, and it’s just a dream come true every single time you get to go to your hometown and play. So, I treat it as an honor to go back and play and I always get excited for it because you’re playing in front of your family and friends you grew up with.”
Gronkowski said the pass, punt and kick competition was his best memory growing up going to a Bills game.
“They were actually playing New England that game that I went to and I was in punt, pass and kick,” he said. “I made it to the final round of the region and we threw the football at halftime on the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium. …
“I didn’t win that round, but I made it to that far. I threw the ball pretty far as a little kid and got some roars from the crowd. So, I know they liked me at one point in my career.”
Gronkowski probably won’t draw many cheers Sunday when the Patriots play the Bills, but he must know that, deep down, Buffalo fans respect him.