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Mankins: Gronk's "A Big Meathead"

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New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (and his extracirriculars) get a vote of confidence from one of the Patriots' most respected captains.

Scott Halleran

Offensive lineman and New England Patriots captain Logan Mankins stopped by the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center for a charitable visit on Tuesday afternoon. Mankins and his wife, Kara, spent several hours speaking with donors and patients in their "Celebrate Volunteerism" t-shirts.

The Kraft Family Blood Donor Center—adorned in New England Patriot regaliaprovides blood products to patients in both the Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The facilities combine to administer more than 60,000 blood transfusions each year.

Mankins touched on a variety of topics, but one of the most intriguing involved teammate Rob Gronkowski. On his recent activities that have made headlines in both local and national media outlets, Mankins had this to say:

"I know we are referring to Gronk and partying and doing wrestling moves and stuff. I think Gronk's having fun."

"The headlines might not be what a lot of people want, but at least he's not getting DUIs or doing things that are against the law. I don't think he's hurting anyone.

"Hopefully he doesn't hurt his arm because then that would be bad. You know Gronk, he is a big meathead that likes to party and play football. I think that's what he's doing.

"When he starts breaking the law, then that would be definitely something we'd have to look into."

While Gronkowski's off-field antics may have drawn some unwanted attention, it's reassuring to hear that nothing he chooses to do has been at the expense of the relationship with his teammates—especially long-tenured and respected ones like Mankins. While Gronkowski may be unable to control invoking the ire of coaches or front office executives, it is his perception within the huddle that is of paramount importance to the New England Patriots.

All too often we hear of football players either directly or anonymously throwing teammates under the bus for quitting, not giving one-hundred percent effort and generally refusing to be team players. We, as fans, may collectively wince as Gronkowski performs a near-flawless DDT on a really expensive, twice-broken arm; but as long as it's not Gronkowski's teammates feeling the urge to put him in an inverted headlock of his own, supporters and naysayers alike have no choice but to let Gronk ... well, be Gronk.