Rob Gronkowski and Tedy Bruschi have long been connected without ever actually being connected. Both were All-American and All-Pac-10 selections at the University of Arizona but played for the Wildcats in different decades. Both won three Super Bowl titles alongside Tom Brady with the New England Patriots but the two were never teammates.
But the two Pro Bowlers and All-Pro selections will finally take the field together this spring, although they’ll be on opposite sides (at least we think), as Gronkowski and Bruschi will serve as honorary coaches for Arizona’s spring game this April in Tucson.
Tedy Bruschi and Rob Gronkowski were both stars for the Arizona Wildcats
Tedy Bruschi joined the Arizona Wildcats in 1991 but was redshirted after breaking his thumb after appearing in just two games. He returned in 1992 and played outside linebacker before transitioning to the defensive line in 1993, a season in which he earned Second-Team All-American and First-Team All-Pac-10 honors after recording 19 sacks.
Bruschi earned First-Team All-American and First-Team All-Pac-10 honors in both 1994 and 1995 and ended his career with the Wildcats with 52 sacks, which would be the second-most in Division I history had the NCAA been keeping official defensive statistics at the time.
As for Rob Gronkowski, he enrolled at Arizona in 2007 but played just two seasons for the Wildcats as back surgery kept him from playing the 2009 season, at which point he chose to enter the NFL draft. However, Gronk did have a productive two years in Tucson, catching 75 passes for 1,197 yards and 16 touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2008, Gronkowski earned First-Team All-Pac-10 and Third-Team All-American honors.
Both won three Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots
Tedy Bruschi was taken in the third round of the 1996 NFL draft with the 86th overall pick by the Patriots and played his entire 13-year pro career in New England. In those 13 seasons, Bruschi won three Super Bowl title and was a two-time Second-Team All-Pro selection and a one-time Pro Bowler.
Just three days after playing in that lone Pro Bowl, Bruschi suffered a stroke that left his career in jeopardy. He was initially set to miss the entire 2005 season but returned early and shared the NFL Comeback Player of the Year trophy with Panthers wideout Steve Smith. Bruschi retired just ahead of the 2009 season and ended his NFL career with 1,074 tackles (680 solo), 30.5 sacks, and 12 interceptions, four of which he returned for touchdowns. He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2013.
Less than a year after Tedy Bruschi announced his retirment, the Patriots selected Rob Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft with the 42nd overall pick. Gronk played nine seasons in New England and established himself as one of the best tight ends of all time. In those nine years with the Pats, Gronkowski caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns and added an additional 81 catches for 1,273 yards and a dozen scores in the postseason.
Gronkowski won three Super Bowl titles, was a five-time Pro Bowler, a four-time First-Team All-Pro selection and, like Bruschi, was once named NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He retired following the 2018 season but returned in 2020 and won a fourth Super Bowl ring alongside Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tedy Bruschi and Rob Gronkowski will serve as coaches during the Arizona Wildcats’ spring game
On Monday, the Arizona Daily Star announced that Tedy Bruschi and Rob Gronkowski will serve as coaches during the Arizona Wildcats’ spring football game on April 24.
First-year Wildcats head coach Jedd Fisch, who, oddly enough, worked as the quarterbacks coach for none other than the New England Patriots in 2020, made the announcement on a virtual call with Arizona alumni but did not specify exactly how involved Bruschi and Gronkowski will be, although one would think that if they’re being brought in for this game that they’ll be prominently featured.
Bruschi was actually recently hired by the university as a senior adviser to Fisch and the other members of the coaching staff. As for Gronk, this will be his first appearance at Arizona’s spring game in a decade.
Stats courtesy of Sports Reference