Gronk has 69 reasons to be hyped for Super Bowl LII, and that's just the number of family and friends who are flying to Minneapolis to see him play on Sunday.
Number 87 was finally cleared to play in Super Bowl LII after passing the mandatory concussion protocol, and he was the hottest commodity at the Patriots press conference from Mall of America on Thursday.
Hundreds of reporters crowded around his podium to talk to the big fella for the first time this Super Bowl, even skipping Brady and Belichick, who have been allowed to talk to the media all week.
Wearing his shiny new Super Bowl LII hat and jersey (we tried to steal them, he wouldn't let us ...) Rob fielded countless questions from the media about how he was feeling, what he was most excited about, how Minneapolis was so far ("I've only been to the Mall and played Xbox"), if had he been to the food court yet ("No, but I am looking forward to Benihana after the game"), hell -- he even answered a few questions in Spanish for his millions of Mexican fans!
“It feels good,” Gronk told the throng of eager reporters, when asked how it feels to be cleared to play. “I mean, that was probably the plan the whole time. It’s part of the process. The plan was obviously to get cleared. I knew it was going to happen.”
He went on to say that he never really had any doubt that he'd be cleared, and with a cheeky grin, suggested he was being kept away from the media for a reason!
“I would say they were a little bit on the cautious side,” Rob continued, adding, “Everything went smooth.”
When asked if Belichick knew that he'd been cleared (er, duh!), he said: "Well he does now." We think Bill was informed before then.
With half of Buffalo and most of Boston flying out to see him this weekend, Gronk stressed how important it is to have all his friends, family including his mom and dad here to root for him. He even gave a special shout out to family friend and veteran Buffalo News reporter Vic Carucci, telling the media pool: "I've known him since I was a kid, his daughter used to always invite me over." Cue cheeky grin and lots of laughs.
Getting serious again, Gronk he was “ready to roll” come Sunday, and that Thursday morning's practice "went good ... We’ve been having a couple good practices this week. Just good to be out there with the boys and get the chemistry down. It was a good day.”
Pats fans learned earlier in the day that Gronk had passed the injury protocol, which no doubt sparked a celebration almost as big as when they actually won the Super Bowl last year.
Check out ESPN's video from Thursday's press conference below:
Official: Gronk has passed the concussion protocol. All four players on the Patriots’ injury report were Full Participation today pic.twitter.com/k3SKHezsTP— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) February 1, 2018
No excuses now. https://t.co/NMQyssR76d— Dale Guiducci (@DaleGuiducci) February 2, 2018