On Rob Gronkowski And The 'Summer Of Gronk'

I wonder if BB and Gronk knew they were just rows apart from each other... Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

In professional sports, it's easy for athletes to find themselves in the public limelight. Some try and stay private to avoid it--others crave it like a late night snack.

After a monstrous 2011 campaign which saw him catch 90 passes for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was certainly one of the one's who craved the limelight this summer.

It all started after the Patriots' loss in Super Bowl XLVI. Instead of heading home to reflect on a tough loss, the Patriots second year tight end went out partying at an Indianapolis club until early morning. Pictures that were snapped have Gronkowski, who was battling an ankle injury at the time, dancing without a shirt on.

When looking at this from a psychological standpoint, Gronkowski did the right thing here. He didn't let the thought of losing a game, Super Bowl or not, bum him down. He shook it off, and continued on with his life. However, he did many things wrong in the eyes of the Patriots community, and drew heavy criticism for his actions.

Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who won two Super Bowls with the Patriots, said the Gronkowski 'embarrassed himself' by going out and partying after losing the Super Bowl. But that didn't bother Gronk one bit.

As it turns out, this was only the beginning of what some people are calling the 'Summer of Gronk'. The man who coined the phrase "I am party" in Spanish, continued to subject to the limelight. From being a judge on a NBC dating show to posing nude for ESPN the Magazine--Gronkowski has been a very busy man this offseason.

Apparently, a little too busy for the Patriots' taste.

But with just a few more weeks until the players report to training camp, the team has reportedly asked Gronkowski to stay out of the public eye until football season has officially begun. Because this is a team that is very cautious, almost self conscience of their image, this should come as no surprise.

There are some fans out there who are really embracing this side of Gronkowski, getting T-Shirts with "Party Gronk" or "Yo Soy Fiesta" on them. Others, like everyone's Dad and the Patriots, are a little angry about Gronk's offseason activities and believe he's not as focused on Football. For me, I see it both ways.

In defense of Gronkowski's offseason doings, I believe that he's truly deserved the right to go out and have a little fun. I was actually one of the few who didn't mind the partying after the Super Bowl. That's just who he is, and it's a different style than what we're used to. He's not doing anything illegal by just having fun.

Even though the Patriots have a reputation of being very private and careful in their offseason dealings, it doesn't mean that all of the players are the same way. For someone like Gronk, who worked very hard and established himself as the best tight end in the game, I believe he's earned every bit of the attention he's getting.

One Tom Brady found himself in the limelight quite often after his name came to fame after winning the Super Bowl in 01'. He did things such as date high profile women (as Gronk does) to hosting Saturday Night Live (something I'd love to see Gronk do). Heck, Brady's married to a supermodel; and he's been able to be an elite NFL QB year in and year out. If I'm Gronk, I don't see any problem is going out and using my fame and popularity to have some fun.

But while I do not mind the 'Summer of Gronk' and all that's gone on, I can't fault the Patriots for telling him to tone things down. There's just a few weeks until Training Camp. When the Patriots are ready to go to work, and try and bring home the Lombardi Trophy. In order to do that, they need their players focused.

The Patriots placed a lot of faith in the 23-year old, as they signed him to a five-year extension and gave him a significant raise. They know he's a tremendous player and what he brings to their football team. If I'm Robert Kraft, the man writing Gronkowski's checks, I make sure that he's focused and ready to go.

I also believe that part of them telling him to stop is because of his ankle injury and rehab progress. He's a big part of what makes this offense so dynamic, and the last thing I want to see if I'm the Pats is a headline on TMZ.com reading "Gronk'd Out: NFL Star Tears ACL Dancing At Night Club".

Gronk, you made us all laugh this offseason and made us look forward to season even more. Through it, you've become even more likeable than you were before, and we love you. But your boss, Mr. Belichick called, it's time to go back to work.

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