Rob Gronkowski’s decision to leave retirement and join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season has worked out pretty well for all involved, as he started all 16 regular-season games and caught 45 passes for 623 yards with seven touchdowns (plus made two catches for 43 yards and two first downs in the postseason), while the team made the Super Bowl. However, as Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal relayed Monday, Gronk took a rather casual approach to the team’s requested offseason workout footage:
During virtual offseason workouts, Gronk had to run sprints, record them and send them to the Bucs. So, to get out of it, he'd record himself running sprints in different shirts on the same day. Then, he'd send in the videos on different days.
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) February 1, 2021
That’s a very funny story (even if it didn’t make the cut for Daniels’ newspaper feature on Gronk), and it may be rather relatable to some who have been “working virtually” this past year. Yes, there are absolutely times this writer in particular put on a nice shirt for a media Zoom call while still wearing out-of-frame sweatpants. So Gronk changing shirts for same-day sprints feels in line with that.
And really, Gronk’s results this year have shown that he’s been just fine, even if he wasn’t actually out there running sprints every day this offseason. So maybe the larger issue is the team pressure to go run every day. Gronk did what he needed to do to be in shape and be a productive NFL tight end (and one much more so than, say, 13-catch-for-69-yards Jason Witten). And he received incredible praise from his Tampa Bay coaches and teammates, which Daniels did include in his piece (including “I didn’t know about Gronk’s work ethic. It’s unbelievable,” said Bucs head coach Bruce Arians. “He comes in early, stays late. He’s great, but it’s Gronk so he’s got that great personality to go with his work ethic.”). So the story about him changing shirts to make it look like he was running more days than he actually did is perhaps more of an indictment of NFL workout culture than it is a criticism of him. At any rate, it’s funny.