|Gronkowski upgrades New England's offseason softball team. (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)|
Rob Gronkowski might be better known for what he gets into off the field than what he accomplishes on it. As one of the NFL's best tight ends, that speaks volumes. The 23-year-old out of the University of Arizona was New England's second-round pick in 2010. In two seasons he's hauled in 132 passes for 1,873 yards and 27 touchdowns, 90/1,327/17 of which came in 2011.
And while any conversation about young tight ends begins with Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, Tom Brady's second favorite target (after Wes Welker) also has a knack for finding his way into the news for non-football-related reasons.
In October, he was photographed with an adult film star. For reasons still unknown, he apologized (it was one of the rare instances where Gronk actually had his shirt on). Then, hours after the Patriots lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, Gronkowski and former teammate Matt Light were spotted dancing their troubles away at post-game party (topless, natch). As grown men with nothing left to play for in the 2011 season, we saw nothing wrong with this. Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison vehemently disagreed. And last week, there was this: Gronk showing up on a reality television show.
But that's Gronk: harmless and happy. Last fall, Brady was asked about his tight end posing with a porn star and his response perfectly encapsulates, well, everything about the tight end: "He never ceases to amaze me," Brady said at the time. "I would have guessed there would be pictures of him somehow with his shirt off, posing or something like that. … He has more fun than anybody I'll tell you that. He doesn't miss a fun day."
Gronk's latest foray outside of football couldn't have been more innocuous -- or more Gronkowski. On Monday, he was in Buffalo taking part in the celebrity home run derby as part of the Triple-A All-Star festivities. And in typical Gronk fashion, he won the whole thing. He edged Bills CEO Russ Brandon, a former college baseball player at St. John Fisher College. After four homers in the first round, Gronkowski connected on eight in Round 2 to edge Brandon who had seven.
So in addition to locking up one of the league's most dynamic tight ends for the foreseeable future, the Pats also get a cleanup hitter for their offseason softball team. Bill Belichick thinks of everything.
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