It’s been quite a month for Rob Gronkowski, the superstar who does only one thing better than playing tight end for the New England Patriots.
And that’s having fun.
For a league that’s often made light of by twisting the NFL initials to stand for “No Fun League,” Gronkowski is a welcome breath of fresh air.
His spring started back at Wrestlemania 33 in Orlando on April 2. Gronkowski showed up ringside to help his buddy Mojo Rawley, the artist formerly known as Dean Muhtadi, an ex-Maryland defensive lineman who once had cups of coffee with Green Bay and Arizona before making the move to sports entertainment, win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
A day after doing all that, Gronkowski was back in the Boston area for the Red Sox’s opening day. He ignited the Fenway Park faithful by running out on the field and “swiping” the recently recovered stolen Tom Brady jersey right from the All-Pro quarterback’s hands.
On Wednesday, Gronkowski visited the White House to celebrate the Patriots’ latest Super Bowl title, where he ducked in on Sean Spicer’s daily briefing, asking the embattled press secretary if he needed any help, which had even the jaded Beltway press corps chuckling.
It was much-needed levity to a dynamic that has become must-see television for some because of the combative relationship between President Donald Trump’s administration and much of the mainstream media.
Later, Gronkowski was pictured bumping fists with President Trump in the Oval Office.
In about a five-second cameo and one photograph, Gronkowski somehow overcame all the acrimony and ideology from both sides and turned the visit back into an apolitical event because people generally find him entertaining.
At times, all of this might get a little old, especially the partying aspect of Gronkowski’s antics, but to this point, he’s been an invaluable asset to a league that is regarded as buttoned-up and stuffy.
The NFL is by far the most popular sports entity in America, but its players lag behind the biggest names in basketball, and even baseball at times, because the league’s branding is always about the NFL itself or the teams.
Some quarterbacks can overcome that because of the high-profile nature of the position, namely Brady and the recently retired Peyton Manning, but few position players could dare dream of having similar Q-ratings to a LeBron James or a Stephen Curry.
Gronkowski overcomes all of those hurdles with personality, and his extracurricular activities this month are good for the game and his peers.
Despite his penchant for having fun, there has never been any indication that Gronkowski has ever reached Johnny Manziel-type levels. Meanwhile, inside Gillette Stadium, no one in the Patriots organization has ever questioned Gronkowski’s work ethic or desire to play the game.
In fact, the opposite is often true. Gronkowski plays the game so hard that some in Foxborough believe his career longevity might be extended if he dialed the way he plays back on occasion.
Gronkowski is what every NFL team should want, a player who understands the business of professional sports. Have your fun and entertain the masses, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, CBS Baltimore, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.