Rob Gronkowski grew up brawling with four brothers — “mayhem,” as he described it. His mother, Diane, let them settle disputes among themselves, while his father Gordie added one caveat.
“He loved the competition but he had one rule: You can never ever throw a punch to the face or to the nuts,” the Patriots tight end recalled on UNINTERRUPTED and Chase’s “Kneading Dough” series. “Everything else.”
The rough-and-tumble rule worked as four Gronkowski’s made it to the NFL and a fifth played professional baseball. But the two-time Super Bowl champion left upstate New York with another guiding principle: frugality.
In the interview with Maverick Carter, Gronkowski reiterated that he still has yet to touch any of the money he’s made from the NFL, relying instead on his endorsement deals.
“You see my NFL money, how much I made, I got way more than that baby,” he laughed.
The 29-year-old noted he grew up wearing hand-me-downs passed along by three older siblings, so he’s used to wearing shoes and clothing “down to its rag doll.” The only way he’s getting rid of a shirt, Gronkowski said, is if a drink is spilled on it or it gets ripped off during a night on the town. Jeans can be worn seven days straight — provided they see the inside of a washing machine around Day Three.
However, Gronkowski broke away from that routine with one recent purchase. After seeing a friend wearing a fine piece of jewelry last year around the time he signed his new contract, he decided to reward himself at the end of the season.
“If I hit all my incentives, if I do everything I need to do, get all my bonuses, put all the work in, I got to finally treat myself,” he remembered thinking. “It’s been eight years and I haven’t really bought anything in my career.”
Gronkowski hit the incentives en route to eight touchdowns, 1,084 yards, and another Super Bowl appearance. On set, he showed off the fruits of that labor: a diamond necklace.
The tight end can afford the bling because of his partnerships with brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and Monster Energy. (He also relayed the story of one company early in his career that dropped him after he was pictured with an adult film star.) In turning his on-field talent into on-camera deals, Gronkowski is following the lead of two superstars.
When asked who he looks to for advice, Gronkowski said, “There’s one guy on my team. Our quarterback Brady. I mean, just the way he presents himself, the way he does things, his endorsements and everything.”
The other mentor comes from a different sport, but the same level of success: LeBron James.
“I mean, dude, he’s got his own empire, dude,” Gronkowski said. “Every time you watch him on TV he’s got the game, he’s got the commercials, he’s got stuff going on left and right. He’s got movies now, all that going on, so that’s just another inspiration right there in how he does things and he’s doing it right every single day.”