FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It was pouring at the New England Patriots’ training camp Sunday morning, and tight end Rob Gronkowski had an idea.
Why not a party on the rain-soaked practice field?
OK, that’s not exactly what he was thinking, but what unfolded was an example of how Gronkowski’s kid-like enthusiasm for football can be infectious with his offensive teammates and raise the overall energy level of practice.
Here’s how it happened:
The Patriots were in an 11-on-11 drill and quarterback Tom Brady underthrew a pass to Gronkowski on the right side of the end zone. Making a terrific adjustment back to the ball while blanketed him in coverage, Gronkowski reached back over safety Patrick Chung to snare the delivery.
Touchdown — but instead of his patented spike, Gronkowski fired the ball underhanded into a nearby tent of fans and began to celebrate with his teammates.
That fired up the soggy crowd, but as it turned out, the excitement was just beginning.
Two plays later, Gronkowski caught another touchdown pass from Brady (over linebacker Jamie Collins on a fade route) and then raced over to the tent to celebrate with fans, which sparked raucous cheers.
“After that first play, I accidentally threw the ball and wasn’t sure if I hit someone or not. So the next time I scored right there, I just ran right by and saw them cheering so I was like, ‘Why not go high-five them?’ They were all excited, and it’s cool to get the crowd involved, get the energy level up, and I felt like it did,” Gronkowski explained.
There’s no doubt about that. Two plays later, fellow tight end Martellus Bennett responded by catching his own touchdown, this one from Jimmy Garoppolo, and then racing up to Gronkowski for a reverse chest bump as the crowd roared.
Even undrafted rookie tight end Bryce Williams got into the act, catching a touchdown a few plays later.
The first player to greet him in celebration?
Gronkowski, of course.
“We made it fun today,” Gronkowski said. “That’s always cool.”