Rob Gronkowski’s departure from the New England Patriots offered a reminder: There sure have been some fascinating athletes to come through this region.
As such, NESN.com is taking local fans on a lighthearted trip down memory lane by highlighting 10 “charismatic characters” in Boston sports history. You know, those enthralling players with big personalities who captivated audiences for reasons beyond their on-field performance.
Bill Belichick runs a tight ship, so there aren’t many New England Patriots who give the media much to talk about.
Then, there’s Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski, one of the best tight ends in NFL history, quickly became a Patriots sensation after being drafted in the second round in 2010. He spent the first nine seasons of his NFL career with New England, where he won three Super Bowl titles, earned five Pro Bowl selections and was named an All-Pro four times.
With every record comes a celebration, of course. And the tight end has become known for his signature “Gronk spike” after most of his touchdowns.
But when New Englanders think “Gronk,” they don’t just think football. They also think partying, as he’s shown over the years he’s not afraid to let his hair down off the field.
One year after Gronk (temporarily) retired, he threw his own party in Miami beach for the weekend of Super Bowl LIV. Just because he didn’t play football last season, doesn’t mean he couldn’t go hard that weekend, right? In his eyes, anyway.
Gronkowski, who advocates for the NFL to allow players to use CBD products for pain relief, originally retired following the 2019 season, after dealing with a plethora of injuries. During his time away from the game, naturally, he kept busy with endorsements, as his popularity remained very much intact.
He also left his mark on the WWE Universe by winning the WWE 24/7 championship at WrestleMania 36 on April 5. (And apparently, even after recently declaring he was coming out of retirement to join Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gronkowski still will be expected to defend his 24/7 title.)
Add everything together — the on-field excellence and the off-field antics — and you have one of the most entertaining players in Boston sports history, with a tenure that was even more pronounced given that it came on Belichick’s watch.
At just 22 years old, Gronk tried to pull a fast one by dropping some Spanish during a postgame interview with ESPN Deportes. Let the record stand: it didn’t quite work out.
It did result in an iconic phrase that took the world by storm, though.
His response, “Yo soy fiesta” translates to, “I am party.”
“He was just yapping at me the whole time. That’s why I took him and threw him out of the club. I was the bouncer, picked him and tossed him out of the club on that one touchdown.”
— Gronkowski, after shoving Indianapolis Colts safety (and former Patriots teammate) Sergio Brown off the field when blocking for a touchdown in 2014.
“Gronk would get naked and literally throw his towel over his shoulder and just walk through the locker room with all the reporters. I would just laugh because Gronk obviously, he didn’t give a (expletive). He would just strut through.”
— Tom Brady, in an April 2020 interview with Howard Stern.