New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, 29, is arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history — and easily the most entertaining player the position has ever seen. In addition to being a two-time Super Bowl champion and five-time All-Pro on the field, “Gronk” is an active member of the community. The 6’6”, 265-pounder has teamed up with Honey Nut Cheerios’ Good Rewards Program in an effort to raise money for his Gronk Nation Youth Foundation.
Gronkowski is competing with actor Michael B. Jordan (Feeding America) and actress/singer Lucy Hale (ASPCA: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Fans can go to BeeGoodRewards.com, join a celebrity team and scan the BUZZCOIN on specially-marked boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios. At the end of the promotion (April 15, 2019), Honey Nut Cheerios will donate $100,000 to the charity with the most BUZZCOIN, $50,000 to the second-place charity and $25,000 to third place. Along the way, fans also have a chance to win cash and prizes — including games, gift cards, tech and more.
We caught up with Gronkowski to talk charity, childhood memories, football and some of the fun moments he’s had off the field over the years.
Talk about your partnership with Honey Nut Cheerios’ Good Rewards Program…
I’m very excited that I’ve teamed up with Honey Nut Cheerios and have the opportunity to win $100,000 for my Gronk Nation Youth Foundation. I’m facing Michael B. Jordan and Lucy Hale. Go to B-E-E GoodRewards.com (beegoodrewards.com). Whoever has the most BUZZCOINS in the end, out of us three wins $100,000 to our foundation. I just feel like it’s a great opportunity to partner with Honey Nut Cheerios for that reason.
I grew up in Buffalo, too. That’s where all of the Cheerio’s facilities are, where they make all the Cheerios. Every time we went to a Buffalo Sabers game, a Buffalo Bisons game, whatever it was in downtown Buffalo, we would drive by the Cheerios factories and just smell the Cheerios all over the place in downtown Buffalo. It just reminds me just of my childhood days, of those times. And now I’m on the box of Honey Nut Cheerios, which is just nuts.
You’re playing for your Gronk Nation Youth Foundation?
It’s the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation. I started it a few years back. It inspires youth to reach their maximum potential through sports, education, community and fitness. I just felt like I had a great opportunity growing up as a kid. I had my brothers to play with. I had all the baseball gloves, the equipment, the hockey sticks, the gear. Whatever I needed, I had to play sports. I had the people around me to play sports. I want to be able to affect kids out there, in the New England area, the Buffalo area, to help reach their potential on the practice field in the sports world. And help them to stay out of trouble and be active in the community.
You mentioned your brothers, what was it like growing up in a house with five brothers? What kind of craziness did you guys get into?
It was just super crazy at all times. We were playing sports 24/7. Basketball, baseball in the back yard, it was all pick-up games. We would just make up our own rules. But there was one game called “zoom.” We would put pillows under our shirts and we would all run full speed at each other. Whoever would fly backwards, loses. We just loved doing stuff like that growing up as kids. It was amazing.
That game sounds like it set you up for the future. You’re known for your complete game, as a tight end. How much pride do you take in blocking, and getting the other guy to move backwards?
I take huge pride in blocking. It’s part of being a tight end. I believe a true tight end blocks and receives. It’s part of the game. Also, when you’re able to block better, you’re able to open the holes up for the running back. It’s going to help out in the pass game. It’s going to help out on the play-action. It’s going to help out the receivers. Overall, it’s just going to help out the team, big time. So, I definitely take pride in doing both, receiving and blocking.
You’re a dominant blocker, but you’re also a killer red zone threat known for your touchdown celebrations and your sweet dance moves. How would you describe your celebration game?
My celebration game? I would say it’s a little whack right now. I’m going to be honest. I’ve got to get my “Gronk Spike” going again. I got to get in the end zone more. So, I’m going to start eating my Honey Nut Cheerios more before the game. That’s huge. I’ve got to start scoring touchdowns, so then kids see that I’m scoring, then they go vote for me, then I win. You know what I mean? I’ve got to get in that end zone. Just got to keep working. Keep doing what we got to do. As long as we get the wins, the touchdowns will come.
You’ve been lucky enough to go to a couple Super Bowls. What’s the most unusual thing that’s happened at the Super Bowl? Before, after or even during the game?
I would say the craziest thing is the week leading up to it. Just how much hype there is every single day. And how much patience you just need to get through that week. I mean, you’re just there in the city, you really can’t do much, because you know you got the biggest game of your life coming up. I would say the preparation, and the week leading up to it, is one of the toughest weeks to get ready for a game, with all the distractions around, tickets, people all in the city. It’s one of the hardest things to do, is get prepared for that game.
Another big event that a lot of Patriots seem to like is the Kentucky Derby. I’ve seen pictures of you guys through the years. What’s Derby Day like with Tom Brady and all those guys?
Yes. I’ve done it one time a few years ago. I was lucky enough to get the invite, because I knew it was a thing with all the guys doing it for a few years back. It was cool to go up with the guys, [Tom] Brady, [Wes] Welker, Julian [Edelman], and go for that. Then we went to the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight from there. It was a good week. And the Derby was a blast, hanging with all the guys. Not just knowing each other on the field, we got to know each other off the field too, going to do stuff, which built team chemistry, which helps out.
Coach Belichick is so serious with the media. Does he have a light-hearted side? Do you have any fun Belichick stories? Maybe a window into Bill Belichick the man, and being a little more personable?
He’s mostly all business, all the time. But, there’s definitely jokes thrown out there, that everyone gets a smile on, everyone gets a chuckle over. It’s good to see that.
I read that you’re very responsible financially. Not to get into your pocket, but is that true? What is your financial advice for young NFL players?
I would say so, something around that type of terms. I would just say to the young kids that come in the league, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve been in the league for nine years now. Just spend on what you really need. Save up, because you don’t know how long you’re going to be in the NFL. I mean, the average career is three and a half years. Enjoy your time, spend what you need, and save up, because you never know when the journey is going to end.
I know you’re all business with football season, but you have done some WWE wrestling. Do you think that’s something you consider doing again?
Yes. My good friend Mojo’s in it. It’s great to have a friend in something like that, because it makes you follow it. It makes it way more interesting.
You seem like you work hard and you play hard. But you have a good balance. What life advice or life philosophy would you pass on to people who admire the way you’re able to do both?
It’s definitely difficult. You always got to make sure you get what you need to get done first. Make sure you do your job first. Make sure you get that workout in, or whatever it is that you got to do first. Then I believe there’s always a time where you got to let yourself go, where you got to enjoy yourself, go out with friends, family, do whatever you want, do whatever you got to do to get your mind somewhere else and refresh yourself. I believe in just getting what you need to get done first, then you can go out and enjoy your time.
You famously had a party boat. If I wanted to throw a party on a boat, what advice would you give me? What have you learned from that?
Oh, wow. That boat was definitely one of the craziest parties ever, for sure. It was a great time. That was a couple years ago. All the artists, all the deejays, all the performers, we all had a great time on it. I would say enjoy your time on that boat, because that was a one and done.
Why do you say it was a “one and done”?
It just was. I don’t think we could top it. But it was fun.
This article originally appeared on Athlon Sports.