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The Brothers Gronkowski Take Pro Football By Storm

For the Gronkowski brothers, it all comes down to the joy of competition. Football, baseball, hockey--whatever the sport, whatever the task at hand, it's always been about who's the best. Tall and rangy, strong and fast, the Gronkowskis have always excelled by pushing each other to do better. Now they're plying their gridiron trade on the biggest stage there is, but you get the feeling that for Dan, Chris, and Rob, the NFL is just a bigger, more elaborate version of the hockey games they used to play in the basement of their family home as kids.

Dan, the oldest, played his college football at the University of Maryland, where he was nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship and was in the process of completing his MBA when he was drafted in the 7th round in 2009 by Detroit. Last summer, Denver traded for him to fill a gap at tight end. Last year, Chris walked into Dallas's summer camp as an undrafted free agent and earned himself a key role on America's Team as a starting fullback.

And then there's Rob. Drafted in the second round out of the University of Arizona by New England in 2010, Rob swiftly emerged as a pulverizing blocker and sure-handed receiver in the Pats' wide-open passing game. Indeed, despite the mid-season departure of the team's sole legitimate deep threat Randy Moss, the team's aerial assault never skipped a beat. Rob proved an invaluable asset, offering quarterback Tom Brady a big target over the middle on mid-range passes and surprising speed to get under longer balls. At season's end, Rob had posted 42 catches for 546 yards and a team-leading 10 TD catches.

With the 2010 season in the books, the Brothers Gronkowski have regrouped to train together in the off-season and do what they always do--push each other to get even better. They've also launched a new website, GronkNation.com, that celebrates the Gronkowski ethos. The Gronk'd philosophy is, in short, going all out on every play, in everything you do. We talked to the brothers and got their take on playing in the NFL, training and competing together, and making the most of every moment on their remarkable rise to prominence. Needless to say, our first question had to be mediated by the family patriarch, Gordy Gronkowski.

ProSource: Okay, I'm getting this out of the way first. Who's the best football player?

Gordy Gronkowski: On any given week, one of them can be the best. Chris is a fullback so he naturally is the best blocker. Rob is the best receiver, especially after his performance last year. Dan came on strong last year on special teams and really shocked some people with his performance.

ProSource: And then, of course, there's Glenn Gronkowski, now at Kansas State, where he's going to play H-back.

Gordy: Glenn is unsure at this point what position he is going to play.  If he continues to grow he will most likely be a TE, if he levels out at his current height he will be more of an H-back type player.

Rob Gronkowski: Glenn hopefully grows and puts on some weight so he can become a tight end just like his brothers, but we will see in the next year or so what happens.

ProSource: All the Gronkowskis play a similar position (tight end, H-back and/or fullback) that requires a lot of blocking and pass-catching. How did that come about?

Chris Gronkowski:
I think this comes from the sports we played growing up.  We played hockey and baseball for years as little kids. I think this transferred over to football once we started playing football in high school. We had really good hand/eye coordination from baseball which made it easy for us to catch passes, and we knew how to hit and lower our shoulder from playing hockey. We were also the ones scoring the points, which is why we chose offensive positions in football.
 
Rob Gronkowski: I think it all happened naturally and I feel like we all have the right build for the positions. Being 6'6" and having a lean body, there is just no other position I feel suits me any better on the football field than TE. As for Chris, he's shorter and can get leverage as an H back. Growing up and playing many sports and competing with each other as brothers helped out a lot to make us athletes!

ProSource: Rob, New England often use their tight ends like wide receivers, running deep pass routes and getting a lot of targets. What's it like being part of such a prolific passing offense? What's your relationship with Tom Brady like?

Rob: It's a lot of fun being part of the offense in New England. There are many great guys to play with and great coaches, too. The offensive philosophy is to spread the ball around and get receivers and tight ends open. Tom Brady and I have a great relationship and it all starts on the practice field and in the film room. We both work hard to get on the same page and to get a good feel for each other on the field.

ProSource: Chris, Dallas looked like a different team under Jason Garrett at the end of last year. What did Jason bring to team last year that was missing previously? Also, do you see your role changing under a new head coach?

Chris: Jason Garrett made everyone responsible for their actions when he stepped up to the head coaching role. He treated everyone the same, with no exceptions from rookies to All Pro players. I think this helped bring the team back together after a rough first half of the season. I don't see my role changing much. Jason Garrett was the offensive coordinator, so our offense will most likely not change significantly.

ProSource: Dan, what's your primary goal in Denver's training camp this year?

Dan: I'm looking to head into camp with more confidence and a better understanding of the offense. I had to learn the offense on the fly last year because I got traded right before the start of the season. I'm looking to continue to contribute to the team and work to receive a bigger role.

ProSource: We've been over to your new website, GronkNation.com, and we want one of those "Super G" T-shirts. You guys even have your own rap song! But our readers want to know, what does it mean to "get Gronk'd?"

Chris: Getting Gronk'd means to get hyped, get jacked, or to get pumped up. Doing anything to the extreme.

Rob:GronkNation.com was a fun concept we decided to try out and have a good time with it. We'll be using the site to generate money to donate to our favorite charities. We want to get to the point were we can interact with our fans and people who share our approach to life. That's what Gronk'd is all about. Getting Gronk'd means to get hyped up! To go out and score a touchdown on someone or go make a quality block! Or in other life cases, take a stride you never hit before and really hit it!

ProSource: That sounds exciting. Your off-season training sessions must be pretty intense. Describe in general terms what your offseason training regimens are like.

Chris:
We trained together last year in the off season. A normal day consists of waking up at 6:30am, going in and getting the proper nutrition for breakfast, which was a huge 32-oz protein shake. Then we train from 7:30am-1pm, doing things like pool workouts, agility drills, speed training, and position-drill training. We'll sit down for lunch at 1pm for an hour. Then we finish off the day with weight training in the afternoon and leave at about 4-4:30pm.

ProSource: What kind of foods are on the Gronkowski training table?

Chris: When we get serious and start training all out,  nutrition is just as important as the training. Our selection is limited to food that we know will help our bodies recover and build muscle.  Egg whites, chicken, fish, a lot of vegetables and fruit is what you can expect to see us eating almost every day.
 
Rob: Nutrition is very important at crunch time. When trying to get in the best shape possible, the selection of food is limited. I like to eat lean chicken, lean steaks, vegetables, fruits, and healthy deli foods every day.

ProSource: One last question. Dates haven't been set yet, but we see that New England has both Dallas (home) and Denver (away) scheduled for the 2011 regular season. How many Gronkowski touchdowns can we expect in those games? Have two Gronkowskis ever scored a touchdown in the same game?

Chris: We are all playing each other this year for the first time. It's going to get really competitive on the field, especially if we run into each other on special teams. One of our family goals is for all of us to score a TD on the same day. That would have to make ESPN Top 10.

Rob: Chris and I have scored in the same game in 2008 against Oregon, while we were both at the University of Arizona. I hope we can expect a lot of touchdowns from GronkNation! I know it's going to be a lot of fun playing my brothers and sure cannot wait for it to happen!

ProSource: Okay, guys. Thanks and good luck in 2011.