Not to paint any diverse, multi-state region of people with a broad brush, but I truly believe I understand the good, red-blooded people of New England fairly well. I think I know that makes them tick. At least in general terms. Because I'm one of them and, I say humbly, I'm a fairly good representation of those I consider my people.
Specifically, I'm not a terribly sentimental man. I don't need to hear "I love you." Not from my adoring Irish Rose. Not from our sons. Not from my brothers or sister or friends. But I do expect to hear it from my athletes. I don't consider that to be too big an ask. Not after all we've been through together.
Just to get back to the sentimentality thing for a second and tie it in here, I can't tell you the last time I cried at a wedding or a funeral. But I've had the kind of talking bottle openers that, when the bottle cap hit the metal part of the opener, would play Joe Castiglione's "Ground ball, stabbed by Foulke! He under hands to first ..." and Gil Santos "It's good! It's GOOD!" calls. And I shed a tear every, single time. Which might have been the beers talking. But to my mind was more a Pavlovian response to great emotional moments.
Which explains why I - and the vast majority of people in the six states I've always called home didn't take kindly to Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski snubbing us from their recent retirement announcements like they're the Emmy nominations and we're Yellowstone. Like it would've killed them to just acknowledge the decades long committed relationship they ended.
Brady unretired without making amends for the slight. Gronk said yesterday he's going to stay retired, and this time he really, truly, super duper means it. And then later was asked why he left
me us out of his extremely long Instagram farewell address:
Source - It seems he believes the message was misunderstood.
“I think it’s a little blown out of proportion,” Gronkowski told NESN.com on Tuesday. “I mean, I kind of did it when, you know, my first retirement.”
… “There’s no doubt I love New England. I love all the fans here in New England. There’s no doubt,” Gronkowski continued. “But I felt like that speech or whatever, the time and place I did for the first one was great, and I was just kind of giving it for that retirement for the two years I had in Tampa. But I think it was blown out of proportion maybe a little. But I love New England, love everything about it.”
OK. Fine. Fair enough. It would've been nice to hear it at the time. And he'll have to forgive us for not scrolling through dozens of 'Gram posts, refreshing page after page like we're searching through Kate Beckinsale's timeline looking for a swimsuit shot or something, trying to find this tribute he wrote two years ago. But he did write it. And he did just say again how much he truly feels.
And that's all we can ask for. Just an acknowledgement that the appreciation we have for him is reciprocal. The love, requited. That this wasn't just a guy playing a sport and us hoping he'd do well, but an actual, emotional bond. A connection between a part of the country and a guy who gave us so much that he became a part of the culture.
Some athletes are just in it for themselves and the paycheck. And that's their prerogative. But ideally, they come to a market and get embraced in a way that makes you buy their jersey. Name pets after them. Get tattoos of them, if that's your thing. And in extreme cases, promise yourself you'd give them Writ of Prima Noctae with your significant other if they requested it. Gronk was just such a player. I'm just glad he hasn't forgotten he felt the same way. Happy retirement.