Rob Gronkowski played the goofball but few can doubt his greatness

The Patriots star was a revolutionary, simultaneously the NFL’s best blocking tight end and an unguardable receiver. His place in the Hall of Fame is assured

The New England Patriots had an inkling Rob Gronkowski might leave. The finality still hurt. On Sunday afternoon, the fun-loving frat-boy turned NFL superstar walked away from football before his body completely betrayed him.

Gronkowski was beloved because he was himself. He was an unapologetic meathead; the ultimate football bro. Not even the many fans with disdain for the Patriots could fully turn against Gronkowski’s, umm, idiosyncrasies. This is a man who says he made his collegiate choice based on romantic choices rather than program pedigree, turning down Ohio State and legendary coach Jim Tressel in favor of Arizona. The weather was also nicer. “If you ever went to a pool party at Arizona, you’d understand,” he told his dad.

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