CHANDLER, Ariz. -- An unfortunate side effect of an NFL player displaying personality is that he is often not taken seriously.
So it goes for Rob Gronkowski, quite possibly the greatest tight end in NFL history, who will forever be known as your perennially hungover best friend from college.
The truth, of course, is that he could not function in New England's offense without an immense amount of preparation and practice. This is the conundrum he finds himself working through.
"I feel like they underestimate the hard work and dedication behind the scenes for everyone," he said Wednesday. "Just going in the weight room when it's your time to work out, the meetings behind the scenes, the practicing during the week. I mean, I feel like some people just look at it like you go out there on game day and play, but that's not really the case. You always have to be taking care of your body throughout the whole week, in the morning and all the way through nighttime, getting sleep. So, people kind of underestimate the hard work and dedication that goes into the week to get prepared for the games on Sunday."
Throughout the week, Tom Brady has been pressed on his own legacy, but it's interesting to think about how Gronkowski will be remembered once his career is finished. At the moment, he ranks third among active tight ends in career receiving touchdowns behind Vernon Davis and Jason Witten and he is much younger. If he was fortunate enough to have the career longevity of Tony Gonzalez he would be on pace to finish with more career touchdowns, and just 239 fewer receiving yards than the legend.
But then, we focus on exchanges like this one from Wednesday:
Reporter: "There are a lot of young guys who have a good time. Why do you think there's so much interest in your party habits or fun ...?"
Gronkowski: "Uhh, 'cause I'm a baller? (laughs; beat) Is that a good answer? (REPORTER: "No, it's a great answer.") Aight."
To some of us, this is just a player being himself, and not a player donning a reason to be judged as unprofessional.