While Rob Gronkowski isn't the only NFL player with a boisterous, goofy, larger-than-life personality, he's certainly near the top of the list regarding players with highly publicized off-the-field personas. And, from various testimonials, he was respected by his teammates.
Devon Clements of Sports Illustrated, for example, notes that "Gronkowski's childish personality grew on his fans, coaches and teammates." His teammates displayed admiration for his on-field efforts, acknowledging that he'd risk his health at times to secure win after win after win for his Patriots. Not so long ago, he was ranked within the top 10 most-liked player in the NFL, according to CBS Sports. And, of course, Tom Brady isn't upset that the two will reunite down in sunny Tampa Bay for the 2020 season.
But not everyone thinks that way about Gronk. It's not hard to understand that there may be some people out there who aren't in love with his goofy ways. Clements followed up his comment on Gronk by additionally noting that "it's that same personality that nearly steered New England away from drafting him back in 2010."
The WWE should have been the perfect home for a personality like that, right? I mean, look at the humongous roster of superstars that have been as outspoken, hilariously crude, and controversially charismatic as any other figures throughout sports history. Stone Cold Steve Austin, shotgunning beers and flipping off the crowd and authority to his heart's content, fits the mold. The Rock, at times in his career, could also fit the bill. John Cena, Chris Jericho, Mick Foley... and the list goes on.
But Gronk's brief stint in the WWE didn't quite result in the same positive reputation. According to a report from Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select, a top name said that Gronk was "a ***** clown who we are so much better off without," apparently following the sentiment of many others in the organization. Sapp further details that even wrestlers who are considered helpful and easy to work with "all had negative things to say about working with Gronk," (h/t Andrew Ravens of Wrestling News; Blake Oestriecher of Forbes).
Additionally, Oestriecher said that his "over-the-top persona and goofy dancing" didn't quite click in his experimental run as a front-page WWE figure. Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated summed up Gronk's first 'SmackDown' appearance with one pessimistic quote: "Rob Gronkowski is destined to be the next celebrity to fail in WWE." His WrestleMania appearance, at least in my eyes, kind of reiterated that thought.
Perhaps Gronk should be extra grateful that he's getting another chance at stardom in the NFL. It might have been the easy way out from a tough road ahead in the WWE.