FOXBOROUGH — Rob Gronkowski is no dummy.
Over the years, the tight end has been very public in his appreciation and admiration of Tom Brady. It’s clear some of that comes from the tight end knowing how good he has it — he’s been given an opportunity to play alongside one of the best to ever play the game. Other elite pass catchers struggle with consistency at quarterback. He’s had the same guy throwing him passes just about every week during the season since he first arrived in 2010, which makes things easier by comparison.
But there’s also a clear affinity there, one that goes deeper than just your usual quarterback-tight end connection. On a number of occasions, he’s been Brady’s biggest and most high-profile defender. After the memorable “On to Cincinnati” game in 2014, with the quarterback struggling, Gronkowski appeared to get emotional discussing how badly he wanted to take up for his beleaguered quarterback.
“I told my brother before I came to the game, 'I'm gonna make 12 look like Tom Brady again, baby,'" Gronkowski said that night. "And I went out there with my teammates and we made Tom Brady look like Tom Brady after you guys were criticizing him all week. The fans, everything. And it feels so good and he's such a leader and he went over 50,000 yards today. He's an unbelievable player and I'm so glad to play with him.”
And last Sunday, he acknowledged the report from this past offseason, saying the reason he nixed a trade to Detroit. Why? Because he’d have to leave Brady.
“Brady’s my quarterback, that’s all,” he explained. “Wasn’t going anywhere without Brady.”
It wasn’t a teary T.O.-style “That’s my quarterback” confessional. But it spoke volumes about the depth of the relationship between the two. On Wednesday, I asked him to provide some insight into why he feels so steadfastly loyal to Brady.