Super Bowl trophies are why the people around Rob Gronkowski can’t have nice things. The fun-loving tight end played on two of the New England Patriots’ half-dozen title-winning teams and personally inflicted the damage done to the symbol of the sixth championship.
That explains why he wasn’t part of the signature moment of a wild celebration after Super Bowl 55.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski just shared another title
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 31-9 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55 marked the seventh NFL championship for future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and the third for Gronkowski, his former Patriots teammate.
Three days later, the city celebrated the team’s title with a boat parade on the Hillsborough River near downtown Tampa. Thousands of fans showed up, and many witnessed a throw by Brady that attracted more attention than any of the three touchdown passes he rang up three days earlier.
In a moment caught on video and replayed repeatedly, Brady tossed the Lombardi Trophy from his boat across the water to another boat carrying teammates. Tight end Cameron Brate caught the trophy, saving everyone an extraordinary amount of potential embarrassment.
“That was the best catch of my life,” Brate said, according to ESPN. “Unbelievable. That was the best catch of my life. If I had dropped that? I think I would’ve had to retire.”
Actually, no. It would have taken some work, but someone would have eventually fished the trophy out of the river. On the other hand, there’s no fixing the dent that Gronkowski put in one of the Patriots’ trophies two months after Super Bowl 53.
Don’t trust Gronk to take care of the hardware
Gronkowski retired from football after Super Bowl 53, but he certainly went out with a bang. The tight end caught six passes for 87 yards in the 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Six weeks later, he announced a retirement that ended up lasting one season before Brady lured him into a fresh start with the Buccaneers.
Two weeks after retiring, Gronk joined his teammates to throw out ceremonial first pitches at Fenway Park, where the Boston Red Sox were presenting the championship rings in honor of their 2018 World Series triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Awaiting their introductions, the Patriots players gathered in a tent. It was the first time together for most since a few days after the Super Bowl, so there was a lot of laughter and rowdiness.
Gronk was among the players taking the opportunity to throw some warmup pitches. As receiver Julian Edelman prepared to take his turn getting in a practice throw in the tent, Gronkowski had an inspiration: He would stand at the makeshift home plate and pretend to be the batter.
“You knew something was going to go wrong when you hand out the six Lombardi trophies,” defensive back Jason McCourty said in a video on the Patriots’ website, “especially one to Rob Gronkowski with idle time.”
And that’s why there’s a dent in the Super Bowl 53 trophy
The Patriots had brought all six of their Super Bowl trophies to the event at Fenway Park, and the players assumed something that many of the fans in attendance probably also made.
“We’re all under the impression these are replica trophies, then we learned that indeed these were not replicas,” special teams player Matthew Slater said. “These were the real trophies.”
When Edelman delivered his pitch, Gronkowski abandoned his batter’s stance and squared around to bunt, using the Lombardi Trophy as his bat.
“It sounded exactly what you think a baseball hitting the Lombardi trophy would sound like,” offensive lineman Ted Karras recalled.
And that is why there is a baseball-sized dent in the Super Bowl 53 trophy.
“Only fitting though that the lasting mark, pun intended, left by Rob would be on a Super Bowl trophy, right?” Slater asked.