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Rob Gronkowski's overexposure something the Patriots need to keep tabs on

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  November 14, 2013 09:03 AM

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Not only has the shark been jumped, at this point it’s far behind on the horizon.

Maybe it’s time to start and wonder if the Patriots feel the same way.

The latest in the developing saga that is Rob Gronkowski’s off-field life is that the Patriots tight end will play a role in the new “Entourage” movie, a film nobody wants, but hey, we got “Grown Ups 2” for some reason as well. According to TMZ, the same outlet that outed Gronkowski for a racial slur at an event over the weekend, “the NE Patriots' stud is going to be hugging it out with Jeremy Piven, Adrian Grenier and the rest of the boys from ‘Entourage’ in their upcoming feature film.”

Ick.

This, of course, is only the latest in Gronkowski’s overexposure, and we’re not talking about the time he posed nude for the cover ESPN Magazine’s “Body Issue.” A new rap video dedicated to the tight end debuted yesterday on GronkNation.com (yes, that’s a thing), his family is pitching an animated series about life in the wacky Gronk household, and – perhaps most frustrating for Bill Belichick – the day it was announced that Gronkowski would return to the field earlier this season, sponsor Body Armor Super Drink pushed a two-minute video about his recovery in which Gronkowski uses more “I’s” and “Me’s” than a six-year-old making out his Christmas list.

If the Patriots haven’t told Gronkowski to cool it yet, maybe it’s time.

Clearly, the tight end’s focus on other projects hasn’t affected his play on the field. Yet. He remains the best tight end in football, and a physical force for the 7-2 Patriots, who are beginning to emerge as possible Super Bowl favorites in the AFC after some early-season soul-searching. He’s been everything Tom Brady could ask for since returning to the field, minus his disappearance in the Miami game.

But haven’t we seen this script before? Young player becomes a star on and off the field, and eventually, the off-field stuff budges its way into his effectiveness at his everyday job. There’s no guarantee that’s going to happen with Gronkowski, but let’s look at the facts; his family seems awfully eager to capitalize on everything he does, and that may have to soon become a concern for Belichick and the Krafts.

Brady is in the same boat, but he’s too cerebral and competitive to allow his endorsements of jet-setting way of life to affect his job. Nobody’s arguing Gronkowski’s competitiveness, but the intelligence factor? We’ll just let that hang there.

At 24, fame and fortune can have a way of catching up with you quickly, and it’s not like Gronkowski hasn’t had to deal with injuries during both his collegiate and professional careers. That potential down time can only lead to more opportunities, more books, more movies, more “Gronk”-inspired merchandise, more “ladies-only” parties like at Harvard Monday night.

More distractions.

If there’s something Belichick hates, it’s a distraction, and Gronkowski’s perpetuity in the names pages on a daily basis could become one. Not yet, of course. But if you don’t think it’s something that Patriots are keeping an extremely keen eye on, you’re fooling yourself.

Then again, he hasn’t killed anyone, either.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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