New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was animated and upbeat at Tuesday at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day -- which teammate Julian Edelman says is his natural state.
“He’s a big goofball, a big baby,” Edelman said. “All he cares about is football and football. You love having him in the locker room. He makes things fun. He works hard. He’s all about this team.”
Gronkowski talked football and more Tuesday, holding court before one of the largest media crowds clustered on the floor of US Airways Center.
Will he watch Katy Perry at halftime? No: They’re be preparing for second half. Who is the biggest prankster on the Patriots? Used to be Matt Light, but now everyone’s cool. Worst dancer? Julian Edelman. Best dancer? Himself. When an entertainment reporter asked him to sing along with her, he sang – and then hoped off his chair to claim the new gaming system that was his reward.
Gronkowski even stayed upbeat when asked about Seattle defensive back Jeremy Lane’s assessment the he’s not that good, responding that everyone is entitled to their opinion.
There are at least a couple of reasons for Gronkowski’s upbeat attitude, maybe first among them is his good health.
That wasn’t the case in Super Bowl XLVI, when he was dealing with an ankle injury. He played, but was limited to two catches for 26 yards, and the Patriots lost to the New York Giants, 21-17.
“It feels good not to get any questions asked about my health, no doubt,” Gronkowski said. “It feels good to be 100 percent healthy and 100 percent ready to roll for this game and not get a million questions like last time about my ankle.”
The Patriots are happy about that, too.
“He’s a big part of our offense,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “He’s a great player in this league. He was an All-Pro this year, and he’s done his job at a high level. He’s a big part of what we do.”
Gronkowski also was buoyed by a kind of homecoming, with the Super Bowl site of Glendale, Arizona, just a couple of hours up Interstate 10 from the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he played out his brief but successful college career.
Gronkowski was born in New York and attended high school in Pennsylvania before going on to Arizona, where over two seasons he set school career marks for receptions and yards. He missed the 2009 season after undergoing back surgery, but played all 16 games with the Patriots in his 2010 rookie season.
Now, five professional seasons and three Pro Bowls later, he’s back for one of the biggest games of his life.
“I kind of really never wanted to leave the state of Arizona, but obviously things happen,” he said. “It’s great to be back. Weather wise, atmosphere wise, I love the state of Arizona.”
Gronkowski is enjoying it now, because he knows Sunday will be all business against the NFL’s top defense, its highest-profile secondary and perhaps especially safety Kam Chancellor.
“He’s a great player, no doubt,” Gronkowski said. “He plays fast, and he’s all over the field. He knows how to make plays. ... Whoever I’m matched up with, I’ve got to be prepared. I know they will be.”
Lane’s highly publicized assessment aside, the Seahawks have been equally respectful of Gronkowski.
“That’s their playmaker, that’s their go-to guy,” Chancellor said. “They’re definitely going to try and target him a lot, try to get him the ball in the game. We just have to play our defense.”
Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner has played for both teams, and he seems excited about the potential pairing of the 265-pound Gronkowski and Seattle’s 232-pound Chancellor.
“That’s going to be one for the ages I think,” Browner said. “Gronk is a beast and Kam is a beast. It will be interesting to watch that matchup: It could go either way.”