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Online sports betting begins in Massachusetts on Friday.
Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski sat down with Boston.com for an interview discussing his partnership with FanDuel, reaction to the Tom Brady un-retirement rumors, confidence levels in Mac Jones, and his take on what happened with the “Kick of Destiny” during the Super Bowl.
Editor’s note: This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Q. So, Rob, tell us about your partnership with FanDuel. Online sports betting in Massachusetts starts on Friday. Tell us why you’re excited about it.
A. “I teamed up with FanDuel about a couple months ago when we did the “Kick of Destiny” and I did the first live Super Bowl commercial ever. If I made a kick from 25 yards, FanDuel was going to give away $10 million in free bets. Unfortunately it wasn’t the best kick of my life and the wind, Mother Nature, just decided to take that football and push it far left and barely miss that field goal. But, let me tell you, I thought it was going through. It was a great kick but the wind was going way too fast, 45 miles per hour. It was one of the coolest concepts that we did, one of the coolest promos, because I love competing.
Q. Are you a March Madness guy? Can we get some early March Madness picks?
A. “I love March Madness. You can’t hate on college basketball during March Madness. This is a great opportunity for fans to make bets on the FanDuel app for March Madness as well. That’s going to be super cool, super neat. March madness always blows your mind, you never know what’s going to happen. You never know whose going to get upset. I’m going say Arizona. They’re going to win it all this year. Can’t hate on Arizona. I went to U of A. Love their new coach (Tommy Lloyd), I hung out with him last year when I was there for a game. Love the guy. Love his passion, love his spirit, he’s all about bringing that energy and you’ve got to appreciate that.”
Q. Speaking of your former teams, can you give us a “State of the Patriots?” Where do you think they are at right now?
A. “The Patriots, I think they’ll be middle of the pack next year. I think with the hire of Billy O [Bill O’Brien], that’s the only guy they could have gotten to help improve their offense. I was with Billy O for two years, great guy, knows his offense, knows the defenses he’s going against, knows how to put his players in the best possible position to go out there and use their talent and skills to the best knowledge that they can so they can make some plays. Billy O, that was a big hire. They definitely had to pay him some head coach money or something in order to get him there. Definitely giving him full control of the offense now, he deserves it and can handle it totally fine. I just think they’re going to be middle of the pack, they’re going to be a well-coached football team as always, no doubt about that. I’ll say they’ll be borderline making the playoffs, borderline not making the playoffs. That’s my prediction for next year.”
Q. Can you give us the Gronk blueprint for a successful offseason? What would you do to fix the Patriots?
A. “I would go get a big-time wide receiver. I think they’re set in the running backs and they know how to use running backs very well if they’re a seventh-round pick or if they pay someone, a vet low money to go there. They definitely know how to use the running back position. Gotta take care of the offensive line, they’ve got enough guys there. But the biggest upgrade they need to make is to get another wide receiver or two. That would definitely help them start putting up the points they need. So they got Bill O, if they get a big time receiver, that will make complications for the defenses out there.”
Q. Is Mac Jones the guy? Has he shown enough at this point? Or is year three going to be super important for him?
A. “Year three is going to be big, I think we’re going to determine if Mac’s going to be the guy this year. Or, if he’s not going to be the guy after this year. He’s shown enough to be competitive and that he can do what he need to do. But this year will be the year. He has Billy O’Brien who is a great offensive minded coach. He knows him as well from college. On top of it, they need to go get that big time wide receiver. They’re set at the tight-end position with Hunter Henry. Therefore, if they get the big time receiver and he has Billy O, this is the year to show if he’s going to be the guy, the future in New England. If he doesn’t improve, show his talents, and a huge upgrade and he doesn’t get the job done than I don’t think he’s going to be there after this year. They’re going to move on or something. This is the year to get that big time receiver to make him better.”
Q. DeAndre Hopkins has been using the phrase “do my job” a lot lately. Anything to that, in terms of a potential Patriots acquisition?
A. “That’s the guy that I’m talking about that needs to go to New England, that they need to go get. A veteran receiver like DeAndre Hopkins. That would give the best opportunity for Mac Jones to succeed, with Billy O, DeAndre Hopkins, and a first round pick a wide receiver or maybe a second or a third round pick at receiver, bring in a few receivers from the draft and then you start hounding them in the OTA during the summer so everyone can get up to speed and have the chemistry built throughout OTA and training camp and stuff so they can go out and produce. DeAndre Hopkins is definitely a possibility for New England. I can definitely see them making a play like that.”
Q. You’re probably sick and tired of this question, but… Tom Brady. Rich Eisen said a comeback is a possibility for Brady. Locally, Scott Zolak said that’s 100 percent in play. Is Tom done playing or not?
A. “That was a surprise when I saw that news. It actually put me on my toes. I was very shocked when I saw that. I feel like Tom is definitely totally done playing. I haven’t talked to him or anything about it. I’m not speaking for Tom. Just from everything I saw from his retirement video and everything I just feel like he is just done playing football. It was just very shocking though when I heard that news the other day.”
Q. What about the Pats’ defense? They were pretty good last year. How do you think they’re going to look next year?
A. “They’re a stellar defense. They looked very good last year. They’re going to be another good unit this year. I don’t think you really have to worry too much. Just keep building on what you have last year and keep plugging in the pieces. Maybe this year in free agency could help them along. Belichick is a defensive minded coach, he knows what he’s doing and he’s the best at it. So the defense is going to be great once again. I feel like they’re going to be a top-tier defense. But it’s all about the offense as well. You’ve got to have a good offense as well win order to have a good team.”
Q. So, Rob, what’s next for you? You going to keep doing TV? You going to lay low and count your cash? What’s going on?
A. “I’m just laying low right now. Had a lot of things going on at the Super Bowl. I love working with FanDuel, they keep me busy. That’s what’s great about them as well. I don’t like to stay too busy, but I like to stay a little bit busy. I’m just working out with friends. I like to stay in shape, get that pumping, get my day going. I get to hang out with my dog Ralphie. I stay low-key, I like to work and hang out with my dog, see my family, see my friends. Really got nothing planned right now, man… I’ll be back on the Fox desk as an analyst again next year.”
Last question. You said you thought you made the “Kick of Destiny.” I thought you made the kick. America thought you made the kick. Have you been hearing any feedback on that?
“Yes. It kind of looked like it went in, especially on the angle that was on TV. That’s why it was a controversy because everyone thought it went in. So, it kind of ended up being the best miss ever because everyone thought it went in but it really didn’t because of the TV angle. The only reason I knew it didn’t go in was because I barely saw to look right in front of the post. I thought it went in, and then I was like ‘no it didn’t’ it went right in front of the post. And then the referees said no. So it was kind of controversial even just being there because it looked like it was going directly in and then the split second it went wide left in front of the post. But, it was the best miss ever man;. If you’ve got everyone talking about that I made it on TV, social media, and everything when I really didn’t, I guess that equals to the best miss ever. I’ve got to appreciate being in that category.”
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