I’d preface the following editorial by saying I’m a New York Jets fan, but I don’t have to. I respect the New England Patriots. I respect them for kicking my team’s teeth in every season, just like they’ve done to the rest of the NFL for the better part of 18 years and that doesn’t look to end either with 12 draft picks coming their way in 2019. After all, how could you hate greatness? “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” (Somebody said that somewhere – can’t place my finger on it). And to you readers that have been wise enough to read up until this point, do not get started on cheating. Everybody cheats. Even the losers (pretty sure wrestling taught us that as well).
The New England Patriots are definitely said “man” of the National Football League. Tom Brady is said “man” of quarterbacks, Bill Belichick is said “man” of coaches and Rob Gronkowski is said “man” of tight ends. That was until he officially hung up the cleats for good on Monday. After nine seasons of playmaking, partying and pigskin spiking the force known simply as Gronk has finally called it a pro football career. And good for him. Despite his keg stand demeanor, Gronkowski played it smart in between the hashmarks and the checkbooks. Unlike so many pro athletes that are thrown into immediate wealth before they can legally rent a car, Gronk had his priorities in order to set himself up nicely for the second stage of his professional life. And he has his options open to him. Could be acting. Could just be pure PSA spokesperson for ant-Tide pod eaters. Could even be this thing we call wrestling. For fans of “the one true sport” we should really hope it’s option three.
Despite what those Ronda Rousey haters want you all to believe (and I can’t believe there are so many), having a huge star athlete willfully wanting to participate in professional wrestling is actually good for the genre. Heck, Fox wouldn’t have signed that multi-billion dollar deal if Ronda’s face wasn’t plastered on the press kit that slid across their desks. Steve Austin may not have skyrocketed as quickly into the 90’s pop culture mainstream if he didn’t flip the bird to Mike Tyson two decades ago. What made Brock Lesnar’s initial return to WWE in 2012 so impactful? That UFC Heavyweight Championship sure gave “The Next Big Thing” some new big shine. Star athletes bring legitimacy and authenticity to the genre and that’s only good for everyone and bad for no one (if done right). Gronk fits that bill in spades and he’s already got an in.
Ever since he helped his brother’s Terrapin teammate Mojo Rawley win the Andre The Giant Battle Royal two years ago at WrestleMania 33, WWE has always seemed like a potential post-career landing spot for Rob Gronkowski, and low and behold, that time has indeed come.
Gronk’s got everything. The look. The name. The promo skills. The attitude. The believability. He’d continue the legacy of the Ernie Ladds and Wahoo McDaniels of NFL players turned wrestling badasses, but he’d also be bringing several Lombardi trophies with him too. A definite eyebrow raiser for people of the casual nature. His only hiccup? Us.. The die-hard wrestling fan. We got in our own way with Ronda, it only makes sense that fans prodding at their unkempt neckbeards would do the same with Gronk, unwilling to loosen the Velcro on their AJ Styles’ gloves to give him a welcoming pat on the back. “Hey, this may be the house that Styles built, but mi casa, su casa, Gronky.” Obviously, Gronkowski would have to have the drive and passion to commit to the craft like Rousey has, but if his in-the-crowd enthusiasm when he’s supporting Mojo is any indication, then I’d say “Operation Gronk” is a go.
And he’s main roster ready. There should be no floating around in NXT, trying to prove his worth to the boys, but it’s right to the top of the card for the future Canton bound bruiser. If Rick Rude could make a wreckless lug like Ultimate Warrior look like Cesaro, then Cesaro could make a natural athlete like Gronkowski look like Rick Rude.
Could you imagine Gronk vs. Brock after a season or two spent with WWE? You might not want to, but you should. Like Rousey, Gronk has already earned it.
Just get the hell out of your own way. This New York Jets fan did.
[Author’s note: The original article stated that Gronkowski went to the University Maryland, but it was his brother Dan. Thanks to Paul Sanchez for catching the error.]
We encourage you all to discuss Dominic’s thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this post and follow him on Twitter @DominicDeAngelo and listen to his Get The Tray Tables podcast exclusively on WrestleZone Radio.