Many people often pair Rob Gronkowski’s name with Tom Brady’s as they have become one of the most dominant quarterback-tight end tandems of all-time. However, for a few years, Rob Gronkowski’s name was almost always paired with Aaron Hernandez‘s, as they both went to the New England Patriots in the 2010 NFL draft and were then two of the most dominant tight ends to ever play together. Hernandez was later convicted of murder and has since died, but for years, Gronkowski never really opened up publicly about his former teammate. He finally did so recently, though.
Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez dominated with Tom Brady and the Patriots
Rob Gronkowski went to the Patriots in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, while Aaron Hernandez went to the Pats in the fourth round. They both had nice rookie seasons, too, as Gronkowski gained 546 receiving yards and Hernandez gained 563.
However, they both became dominant in 2011. Gronkowski earned Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors that season by catching 90 passes for 1,327 yards and an NFL-leading 17 touchdowns. This was while Hernandez caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns.
Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez’s play with Tom Brady that year then also helped the Patriots reach the Super Bowl, but they ultimately lost to the New York Giants. Gronkowski ended up gaining 258 receiving yards and catching three touchdown passes in three playoff games for the Patriots that season. Hernandez added 188 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
However, Hernandez only played in 10 games for the Patriots in 2012. According to Bleacher Report, in 2013, Hernandez was then arrested for the murder of Odin Loyd, and was later convicted in 2015. He then died by suicide while in prison in 2017.
Rob Gronkowski recently opened up about Aaron Hernandez
Rob Gronkowski recently appeared on 10 Questions With Kyle Brandt, and close to eight years after Hernandez’s arrest, he opened up about his former teammate.
“Aaron was a great player; he was a great football player,” Gronkowski said on the March 17 episode. “I get questions like that all the time about him and everything. With everything going on, I was definitely shook when I heard that, when I heard everything about it because being his teammate and everything, you really don’t see that. You’re not really looking into players like that’s who they are, or that’s what they’re doing. Just overall, I just try to keep it simple and light. He was a great football player, but that does not mean anything. You learn from other people, too.”
No, Rob Gronkowski didn’t open up about the specifics of his relationship with Aaron Hernandez. This is still, though, probably the most he has talked about his former teammate publicly since Hernandez’s arrest in 2013, which is a pretty big deal.
He refused to discuss his former New England Patriots teammate in the past
During a 2013 interview with CBS, when asked about Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski refused to answer the question.
“Next question,” Gronkowski said. “I learned that from [agent] Drew Rosenhaus. Next question.”
When the reporter, Don Dahler, brought it up again, he, again, said, “next question.” Dahler then tried to ask his family about the topic, but Gronkowski got up and looked as if he was ready to walk away from the interview. This then led to Dahler promising to change the subject.
Gronkowski really didn’t deserve criticism for how he handled that interview as the situation was still fresh. As time has passed, though, it seems as if he has been able to process things more.
The entire Aaron Hernandez situation was tragic. Rob Gronkowski ultimately deserves a lot of credit for recently opening up about his former teammate.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference