Gronkowski tells wild story about how he fooled Buccaneers’ strength coach originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Rob Gronkowski likes to have fun at his teammates’ and coaches’ expense, even in the offseason when working with a new team and new coaches.
The future Hall of Fame tight end came out of retirement to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year following a trade that sent him from the New England Patriots to the NFC South franchise.
The 2020 offseason was an unusual one for NFL players. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented teams from having a normal schedule of offseason workouts together.
Gronkowski, as a result, had to film his offseason workouts from home and send the videos to Bucs strength and conditioning coach Anthony Piroli.
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The whole process started out fine, but it quickly got old. That’s when Gronk decided to pull a bit of a prank on Piroli. The veteran tight end explained how it went down during his Monday media availability ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
“After a week, it was like, ‘Oh, man. I just wish we were in-person.’ Because every time I had to film myself and send it in in order to get credit for the workout and stuff. That was kind of getting a little annoying,” Gronkowski admitted.
“But then, I started tricking him. I would bring my shirt out, and then I would bring another shirt out, so when I’m running the sprints, I would film myself, like, 15 times for that session. But I would run it in a couple different shirts — because you only had to send in two or three reps — so when the next time came, I didn’t have to film myself because I already filmed myself running in a different shirt every time on that one day.
“And he hasn’t had a clue to this day that I was tricking him about half the time during those virtual workouts.”
In his defense, he gave the Buccaneers about as much as they could have expected from him after taking an entire year off from pro football.
Gronkowski has played in all 19 of the Buccaneers’ games this season, including the playoffs. He tallied 45 receptions for 623 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season.
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Gronkowski caught only one pass in the NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers, but it helped set up Tampa Bay’s fourth quarter field goal that extended its lead to 31-23. The Bucs held on for a 31-26 victory.
On Sunday, he’ll play in his fifth Super Bowl. The 31-year-old tight end played in four Super Bowls with the New England Patriots in his nine years with the AFC East franchise. Gronkowski played well in all four games and made the pivotal play on New England’s only touchdown drive during its Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams two years ago.
The Buccaneers don’t need an elite performance from Gronkowski to beat the Chiefs. But if he does play well, the Bucs offense should pose plenty of problems for the Chiefs’ defense.
Originally published February 1, 2021, 10:42 PM