“Get Off The Stage” – Rob Gronkowski Reveals How He Immediately Clashed With The Patriot Way 5 Minutes After Being Drafted

Rob Gronkowski
Apple TV

If there was ever a key cog in the New England Patriots’ two-decade reign of terror over the NFL who didn’t quite conform to the organization’s buttoned-up culture, it was Rob Gronkowski.

Yes, Gronk was probably the best blend of blocking and pass-catching we’ve ever seen from the tight end position. He obviously worked hard, overcame a lot of injuries, embraced the grind of the Patriot Way, and won three Super Bowls in New England. At the same time, as was revealed in Apple TV+’s The Dynasty documentary, you could tell Gronk marched to beat of his own drum – to the point that the Pats were having a little buyer’s remorse once they drafted him 42nd overall in 2010.

“When I was drafted to the Patriots, it was a proud moment. My family came on stage as well. We got in a huddle. We’re doing. ‘HOO! HOO! HOO! HOO!’ in the huddle. Jumping up and down.

And then all of a sudden, I get a phone call from the Patriots. And they said, ‘Hey Rob, you can get off the stage now. Enough is enough.’ I’m sitting here like, wow — I’m already in trouble. It’s been five minutes since I’ve been on the Patriots, and I’m already in trouble!”

Gronk was, in fact, the only acceptable exception to the Patriot Way. As legendary as he was on the gridiron, there are all kinds of tales about Gronk’s partying and colorful life off the field. None of that ever got in his way from achieving greatness. In some sense, that outlet was probably what kept him in a good frame of mind when he wasn’t gutting it out for Bill Belichick.

The immensely high standard the Patriots established was something NFL teams aspired to replicate for a long time. Many of Belichick’s assistants got head coaching jobs elsewhere, only to flame out spectacularly. Longtime Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive assistant Matt Patricia are prime examples of this. They tried to emulate Belichick and his iron fist brand of leadership. That backfired to say the least.

For a fun-loving guy like Gronk to be so worn down by the end of his time with the Patriots, it must’ve been quite a drag to play there despite all the winning. Think about being Gronk on the day he was drafted. It’s the best moment of your life to that point, and the team rings you up to tell you to calm the hell down? Talk about a bunch of killjoys setting the tone.

In the spirit of draft season and the ongoing NFL Scouting Combine, here’s a throwback to Gronk at the Combine before he became the GOAT tight end.

A little more on the Patriots and the nature of the documentary. Football is not a game for the faint of heart, nor is it traditionally won via a paradigm of politeness. Belichick used to blast Tom Brady and Gronk in front of the team the same as he’d blast a third-stringer on kickoff coverage. A lot of winning happened during Belichick’s tenure, yet the Patriot Way is going out of style nowadays. When he finally ended his tenure in New England, Belichick failed to land a head coaching job, which is still kind of hard to believe.

The Kansas City Chiefs are building a modern dynasty of their own that looks a lot different than the Patriots teams Gronk played for. It’s a whole different vibe. A lot more positive in nature, or so it seems from the outside. You never see Andy Reid’s players looking miserable, or reflecting on their championships and talking about how the process to get there wasn’t fun.

Gronk wound up joining forces with Brady, and helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win another Super Bowl. He seemed to be in far better spirits there, as Brady, too, was reinvigorated by the change of scenery.

The Dynasty is a great showcase for the Patriot Way that’s also being fair in underscoring some of its drawbacks. I love that Gronk was so game to share some insights. He’s a very candid guy, and keeping a lot of this quiet to the general public had to be a bit bothersome. Any Gronk story is a tale I’ll always be eager to hear.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock