A healthy Rob Gronkowski was a difference-maker for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, replicating the touchdown that EA Sports had predicted earlier in the week with its Madden NFL 15 Super Bowl simulation. Gronk hoisted the Lombardi trophy for the first time in real life, which definitely beats a video game sim any day, but while he was recovering from his injury last year, Extra Mustard sat down with him to talk about his virtual alter-ego and sports games.
Gronk grew up playing video games with his four brothers, Gordie, Dan, Chris and Glenn.
“Nintendo 64; that was the best system out back then,” Gronkowski said. “That was the best old-school system.”
The brothers would also play pick-up basketball and baseball in the backyard. And whether it was video games or real sports, Gronk said he won. Every time.
His video game of choice these days isn’t what you’d think. “I really don’t play Madden, it’s a little boring sitting there,” Gronkowski said. “It’s cool playing football in real life. But Call of Duty is where it’s at, and NHL. I like that game, too. That’s a really fun game.”
In fact, Patriots fans might not be celebrating today if Gronk had followed his love of hockey.
“I played hockey all the way until my freshman year of high school,” he said. “I love the sport, and I still like to play pick-up sometimes. It’s cool.”
These days, Gronk considers himself “somewhat of a gamer.”
“Whenever I have some down time and I’m just chilling at the house, I put in the game, call up my friends and family, and get them online and play,” Gronkowski said.
The injury-prone tight end even used games to help him get through the grind of rehabilitation over the years.
“Once in a while I’d just put in a game,” Gronkowski said. “You’re just chilling after a long day at work; your body needs some rest. You just sit down, put the game in, and have a good time playing.”
Just as he’s helped evolve the position of tight end in the NFL, he’s opened up new gameplay options for Madden players.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” Gronkowski said. “With my teammates and the support around me, that’s how it makes it happen. I just have so many great players around me; we can spread out, go anywhere, and line up anywhere. It’s cool.”
Asked if Brady is that great, or if his own talent helps the quarterback, Gronkowski replied: “Both... just everyone around us, with our coaching staff and other great players around us; we all just help out each other.”
When asked if this could have been his second Lombardi trophy if his injured ankle hadn’t impacted his performance in Super Bowl XLVI, he replied, “I don’t know. I was out there just giving 100 percent. That’s the situation.”
When it comes to his Madden player ratings, there’s only one that matters to Gronk.
“I’m just hoping that my swag rating is high; that’s the only rating I care about,” Gronkowski said.
Given the tight end's on-field performance in Arizona, Madden NFL 16 is sure to have an improved Gronkowski avatar come this August.