Rob Gronkowski sobbed, thought career was over after shredding knee last season
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski admits he feared for the worst after going down with terrible knee injury last season after being hit low by Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward during a Dec. 8 game, tearing both the ACL and MCL in his right knee.
Gronkowski, who already had battled a litany of injuries that partially derailed his 2012 and 2013 seasons, missing 17 games, thought his NFL career may be finished.
“I was holding on to my trainer’s hand and my dad was right there and I was just bawling like, Is this it? Am I done?’” Gronkowski tells ESPN’s Lindsay Czarniak in an interview for his cover story feature in the upcoming issue of ESPN The Magazine, via the New York Daily News.
As he sat on the X-ray machine, Gronkowski wondered, after all the battling, rehabilitation and everything he had been through just to get back on the field earlier that season if everything suddenly was over, all in an instant.
“Am I ever going to play football again? What’s going on with my career?” Gronkowski tells Czarniak. “I was just thinking, ‘Is this it?’ I didn’t know what a knee injury was. I’d never felt pain like that.”
Gronkowski of course came back bigger, better and stronger than ever this season, seemingly making a jaw-dropping play every week where he makes an incredible catch or barrels over helpless defenders on his way to the end zone. He is second in the league at the tight end position with 73 receptions and 10 touchdowns but leads all tight ends with 997 receiving yards.
His return to the field and full health seemingly has coincided with the resurgence of the Patriots’ offense, specifically noticeable in the play of Tom Brady, who went from folks wondering if he was washed up to an MVP candidate in a span of a mere few weeks earlier this season.
Gronkowski credits Brady for instilling an intense dedication to the craft of playing tight end in the NFL by demanding — and accepting — only his very best.
“He always used to yell at me and get on my case. I was like, “Man, this dude, why is he coming at me like that?” He would always be making sure my routes were on point, yelling at me to be where I’ve gotta be,” Gronkowski said. “Then he came up to me one day and he was like, ‘Yo, Rob, you know I love you. I just see a lot of potential in you. I’m just trying to get on the same page. I want your max performance out there.’ And when he said that, it all clicked. I was like, ‘Oh, now I know why he’s being like that.’
“That actually made me more motivated. I’ve gotta get on the right step. If Tom Brady believes I can do it, then I believe.”
The man known as “Gronk” may have all the appearances of a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky and party-hearty guy off the field, and that may indeed be the case to a certain extent. Even so, his hard work, dedication and commitment to the game cannot be questioned.