It’s strange to think that Rob Gronkowski’s Super Bowl LIII catch—the 29-yard grab while triple covered, which would go down as his last in the NFL—wasn’t even a full year ago. The catch, which set New England up on the 2-yard-line before the game’s only touchdown, would put the exclamation mark on the career of the greatest tight end to ever play professional football.
That was the end of one thing—a prolific career with single-season and Super Bowl records—and the start of another. It was time to walk away: Gronk would share about how he was “in tears in my bed after a Super Bowl victory”—a stark contrast from the usually positive and lively player who lifted the Vince Lombardi trophy hours before.
So what’s Gronk up to now? Well, Super Bowl LIV is in Miami and it’d be incredibly off-brand for the man who celebrated Super Bowls shirtless chugging beers to miss out the party that’s going to hit "The 305" in a few weeks. That being said, turning 30 does a lot for a person... in our interview, he echoes similar sentiments uttered by Marshawn Lynch this past weekend: "Take care of ya bodies, take care of ya chicken, take care of ya mentals, because we ain't lasting that long."
Moderation and balance is key, the way Gronk sees it. We can all use a solid chance to let loose and party, so enter "Gronk Beach" and his partnership with Uber Eats. The “Yo Soy Fiesta” tight end is throwing a massive beach party for the Super Bowl boasting a lineup of Diplo, Kaskade, Rick Ross, Flo Rida, Carnage, and 3LAU. The former NFL star is also teaming up with Uber Eats and The Salty Donut for a limited-edition Gronk Box of donuts which when ordered enter fans for a chance to go party with Gronk.
We got to talk with Gronkowski about his life away from the game, what he’s up to down in Miami, and his legacy.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
It’s been almost a year now since your last NFL game. You’ve stayed pretty solid with your decision to walk away from the game, but with the playoffs going on, does it feel weird to be down in Miami but not competing?
No, not at all, man. Very firm with my decision. Many people asked me that throughout the season, even when the beginning of the playoffs started. They're like, "Rob, does it feel weird?" I'm like, "No, man." I'm very satisfied with my decision that I made of where I'm at, and it feels good. It's cool. I love the game of football. Actually, you know something? I turned into a fan of football, man, especially the playoffs.
Yeah, I really did. I have been, man, because you're just chilling, you're just hanging out with your friends. You can put the game on. You can watch some action, see the comebacks and everything. It's legit, man. I'm actually becoming a bigger fan of football now, and starting to understand it more through the eyes of a fan now. Because at first, beginning of the year, I won't lie. I didn't watch that much football. I stayed away from it a little bit. As the year went on, playoffs started coming, big games, I actually started watching more now. It's fun. I like sitting down, watching the games with my friends, and getting stuff done while watching the games.
When you walked away last year after winning the Super Bowl, it was one of the big notable retirements that we've had in the game. Did anyone approach you after either for advice or to talk about the process?
I've talked to a lot of people, a lot of retired people. What I got from a lot of them is to stay busy, man. Stay active. Stay in the community. It's all great advice, man. I truly believe in that. I took that advice. I love my downtime, no doubt about that, but also, you can't have downtime all the time. I love staying active, love staying busy, love still working out and stuff. Staying busy and doing stuff like throwing the Gronk Beach party. That's a whole process. It's not easy to do that. You've got to always be up on top. I got to deliver donuts before the Gronk Beach party, too. I'm 30 years old. I got to stay busy.
Your former teammate, Tom Brady, has a big decision looming in the off season. Have you talked to him at all about that?
Tom's a grown man. He's a very intelligent guy. He's definitely going to make a wise decision, one that best suits him. The guy works so hard and he's such a legendary player, the best player to ever play the game, especially at that position.
If you had to guess, where do you think he's playing ball next year?
I'm not him, so I can't really make the decision for him. Whatever decision he makes, I'm definitely going to support him, because he deserves anything that comes his way. He works so hard and he does it the right way.
There’s this image you carry around, partying and drinking, do you think that’s a bit of a bit of a misconception that people have of you, that you're always out there drinking and partying?
Yeah, I would definitely say it's a little misconception, in a way. There is no doubt I like to have fun. I like to dance, I like to be silly, but I would say that there's a little misconception about to what level that is. I would definitely say it has changed over my career. I wouldn't say I’m a different person [now], but I would say I have a different style of having fun and partying. When I was in my young twenties, it was a whole different ball game. You grow up, things change, your decisions change. Things affect you differently than what they would have when you're younger.
I like to have a good time. I like to be silly. I like to lose my mind...lose my mind in a positive way, where you're just having a blast. That's what the goal of this party: to have positive energy there. People just lose their mind in a good way, meaning they just have fun, just laughing, giggling. Just having a blast, dancing your face off, and just being mindfulness while you're at the party. But yeah. I would definitely say that there definitely is a little misconception about, to a degree. I ain't partying every day, be drinking all this time, man. That's too much. I got way too much on my plate. I got to always be focused. I do like to have a good time, no doubt about that, when the time's right. There's always time to celebrate when the time is right.
What do you think would need to happen for you to come back to the game? Is that a specific kind of headspace, or something you'd like to see from the league…?
I would just say what would have to happen...it just hasn't changed. My answer is not going to change from what it was before, is that I got to be really feeling it, man. My spirit, my soul has to be on fire of me willing to go out there and play the game again. That itch of playing the game, that itch of me wanting to go back out there has to be high, has to be on fire. When that happens, then I will consider it. It would have to be consistent too.
As of now, man, I'm very happy in the place I'm at, very satisfied with everything that's going on in my life right now. It's fun, too. It's a whole different ball game. It's outside of the box that I used to always be in, which was football. Always relied on that. It's something different, and it's fun, man. It's a blast.
My spirit, my soul has to be on fire of me willing to go out there and play the game again. That itch of playing the game, that itch of me wanting to go back out there has to be high, has to be on fire. When that happens, then I will consider it. It would have to be consistent too.
You walked away. You also had Andrew Luck, who retired from the game last year, Calvin Johnson retired back in 2016. Do you think players are becoming more secure and confident in their decisions in the face of people who might not really understand why they're leaving?
I would just say that the fans just love seeing us play. We appreciate that. They just want to see us out on the field because they just love to see our talents and us go out there and collide with other players, or someone throw the ball that far. I feel like, to a degree, you got to understand what players go through. You see all the big hits, you see the injuries. Basically you see something happen within every game. It is what it is. It's just the norm of the game. There's some big hits. There's a collision with every play, so you see stuff like that.
I feel like the fans understand. I won't say to the whole T they understand, because you can truly only understand that when you're playing the game as a player. But I also understand their side, too, man, because I'm watching the game now. I appreciate great players, and I appreciate big plays, and I appreciate talented guys out there making big plays, too. I understand that that's what you want to see. It goes both ways. I believe that when a player has to take care of himself, they have to take care of themselves, because the game doesn't last for life, man.
Not sure if you had a chance to see, but Marshawn Lynch had a pretty viral speech after the game on Sunday. He talked about securing the bag, and taking care of mind and body while you're still playing, touching on similar themes that you touched on after you left the game. What do you think it's going to take to educate players who are maybe in college now, who are going to the league or who are in the league now, to really drive home that message?
I didn't actually see it yet, but I've heard a little bit about it. I totally agree with that, with what you just said. The players need to start taking care and getting more aware about their mind and body, which I think is truly happening.
I would just say that younger players should just start taking awareness of what the game does to you, what the toll of the game can possibly do to your body and mind. Just start taking approaches where you can help yourself out through that time. Take care of yourself, take care of your mind, take care of your body. Don't put things in your body that are going to harm you. Just keep doing good for your body while playing and you'll last way longer.
Even if you never play another down in the game, what do you want your legacy to be? Not just as an NFL player, but as such a beloved athlete and such a big name in American sports?
A guy that just gave it his all, every single play. He gave it all, whatever was left in the tank, whatever play it was, on and off the field. Not just on the field, but also in the community, too. All the people that support us every week, come to the games. It was awesome just to give back to the community in New England, and support them also. Just giving it my all on and off the field, man, at all times.
Last year's Super Bowl, you have this great catch, almost triple-covered. You walk away with that ring. What are you up to this year down in Miami?
Oh, man. What am I up to this year? There's many things going on. There's parties and everything. What's going on is the Gronk Beach Festival. It's actually almost sold out, which is pretty crazy.
It's on Gronk Beach. Includes artists like Diplo, Kascade, Rick Ross, Flo Rida. What's cool about it, I'm just hosting it, and it's such an honor to have those performers come and be able to perform at Gronk Beach. Also what's crazy about it is that the tickets include an open bar and free food throughout the whole party, from Salty Donut, to STK Steakhouse, to Bodega, to the Miami Smokers, and more. We're just throwing an amazing...kind of like mini-festival we're throwing at the Super Bowl. It's going to be legendary. It's going to be a lot of fun.
You also got your own donut now with this collaboration with Uber Eats and The Salty Donut. Not a lot of people can say that.
Yeah. It's actually a great collaboration. One of my favorite dessert spots, actually, which is the Salty Donut in Miami, we're making my own limited edition Gronk Beach Box. It features donuts you get free at Gronk Beach for all my guests. With Salty Donut and Uber Eats, Gronk Box includes two whipped pina colada donuts. It's going to be filled with pina colada whip, coconut glaze, and it's going to be topped with salted coconut. To make it look extra fresh, make it look super clean, it's going to have a pineapple flower on it, too. It's going to be amazing. Salty Donut, they make unbelievable donuts. It's crazy. On top of it, the box that we're creating with Salty Donut, it includes two traditional glazed donuts. You know everyone, they loved the glazed donuts, on top of my special whipped pina colada donut that we're making for Gronk Beach.