According to Wikipedia, Robert Paxton Gronkowski was born on May 14, 1989, in a small town in upstate New York.
Now, you know how your history professors always told you that Wikipedia wasn’t a legitimate source to quote in your papers in college? They were right. That one sentence alone contains three inaccurate facts: The first is the claim that Gronk’s first name is Robert, the second is that his middle name is Paxton, and the third is that he was born.
None of that is true. This Football God’s whole name is Gronk, and he entered the world as an adult, much like Venus rising out of the ocean on a seashell, fully grown. The first most significant moment of Gronk’s life — well, the actual first moment of his life — was Thursday, April 22, the same day as the 2010 NFL draft. A cruise ship pulled up to a dock in Miami and Gronk emerged completely naked, save for a football helmet on his head and a pair of cleats on his feet.
He made his way down the gangplank to the dock, where Bill Belichick greeted him. Belichick gave Gronk the cut-off-sleeve sweatshirt off his back and instructed his new prodigy — who knew nothing about social norms, such as wearing clothes, or how to do anything besides play football, really — to tie it around his waist so as to be more decent. Then Belichick put Gronk on a private jet and took him back to Foxborough.
Sure, some of you may have heard the fake news that Gronk played football at Arizona State. Some of you may even think you witnessed it. This didn’t happen. It must’ve been some weird group hallucination. Maybe you all need to lay off the ayahuasca, but hey, I don’t know. I’m not a doctor.
If Gronk’s origin story were a movie, what followed upon his arrival in Foxborough was a montage along the lines of Will Farrell in Elf learning how to ride the subway, or the kids in Stranger Things taking Eleven to school.
Gronk learned to interact with the broader world around him all while honing his skills as an elite catcher of touchdowns. The dude has come a long way, but he’s had to learn so much about how to be a person that sometimes he still short-circuits. And tweets things like this:
Been following up on Hurricane Irma a lot the past few days. Did some research on hurricanes and been learning a lot bout Mother Nature.— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) September 9, 2017
The reason I’m telling you Gronk’s origin story (which everybody already knows) is because on Sunday, the second-most significant moment of his life occurred: Gronk caught a pass from his best friend Tom Brady for his 69th touchdown in the National Football League.
For those of you who have better things to do than make juvenile jokes with other sportswriters on Twitter all day long, let me explain to you why this is so significant. Sixty-nine is a sex joke, and we’re all 13-year-olds, so whenever your phone battery is at 69 percent, or it’s 69 degrees out, or your bill comes to $69.69, you’re supposed to say, “nice.” Gronk thinks 69 jokes are particularly funny, so when he got to 68 touchdowns last year, everyone was like, “Oh, this next one is gonna be good.”
And then he took a particularly nasty hit from Earl Thomas, ruptured a disk in his back, and had to have surgery. The NFL world groaned — not only was this terrible news for Patriots fans, but football fans across the country would have to wait at least a season for Gronk to hit his magic number.
Well, folks, the wait was worth it. Delayed gratification is a thing, and the definition is: “Gronk’s 69th touchdown, which he caught in the Patriots’ Sept. 17 game against the Saints.”
Not only that, but, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Gronk’s stats are actually littered with 69s. The touchdown isn’t all we have to celebrate: He’s also at 69.4 yards per game, and his catch percentage is 69.6 percent. What are the odds? I can only chalk it up to divine intervention. If Gronk’s story truly is a Greek myth, Zeus is up there on Mount Olympus, drinking a High Life in his La-Z-Boy with his feet up on the coffee table, watching football and patting himself on the back for orchestrating such a momentous occasion.
Look, I know this sounds like one big joke, and that’s probably because it is.
I think we really need to step back and appreciate how truly nice these stats are. They won’t last; barring something catastrophic, Gronk will eventually catch another touchdown, and then he’ll just be at boring old 70. He did hurt his groin — LOL — after he caught that magical touchdown pass, but it’s supposedly not that serious. (And if there ever were a time to have an injury that could sideline him for a little bit, this would be it.)
The world is cold, cruel, and soul-crushing, so it’s important to appreciate the small things that bring us joy. Gronk’s time at 69 touchdowns is one of those special events. Someday, years in the future, we’ll look back on the week or weeks that we are currently experiencing, here, together, with Gronk, and sigh, saying to each other, “Remember the 69th Festival of Gronkulus? What a blessed, nice time that was.”
So here’s to you, Gronk, oh large adult football son of the sea. I raise my glass filled with vodka and water in salute of your very nice achievements.