Rob Gronkowski’s season is over. He underwent back surgery Friday to repair a ruptured disk, which he suffered against the New York Jets last Sunday. In a joint statement with the Gronkowski family, the Patriots said it’s in his best long-term interest to go under the knife.
Ever since entering the league seven years ago, Gronkowski has established himself as the most dominant tight end to ever play. But he’s also taken a physical beating. At 27, he’s experienced nine surgeries and three back procedures since 2009. It’s not melodramatic to question where his career goes from here, if it continues at all.
When Gronkowski is sidelined, the Patriots lose the most valuable pass-catcher on their roster. Tom Brady’s quarterback rating is 104.5 with him in the lineup and 84.4 without him –– the difference between Hall of Fame caliber and replacement player. But Gronkowski’s absence is felt far beyond the Patriots’ locker room. The NFL world loses one of its most fun-loving characters, who’s provided fans with plenty of hilarious moments over the years. The three best are below:
1) “Yo Soy Fiesta:” This horribly butchered line is what catapulted Gronk from football stardom to superstardom. Following the Patriots’ victory in the 2012 AFC Championship, a Spanish interviewer asked Gronkowski about his postgame celebration plans. Gronk responded by saying “yo soy fiesta,” which translates to, “I am party.”
The best part is, you can tell how proud Gronkowski is after remembering a couple of words from his high school Spanish class. It’s almost like that was a bigger accomplishment for him than appearing in the Super Bowl.
2) “69:” Rob Gronkowski is obsessed with the number 69. He wore a No. 69 jersey during the Patriots’ most recent Super Bow parade and could barely contain himself last year when ESPN reporter Josina Anderson mentioned it while she was asking him a question. Appropriately, the all-time Patriots touchdown record is also 69. Gronkowski tied that mark this season, and unsurprisingly, appeared to be thrilled about it.
It would be a shame if Gronkowski’s career ended, but in a way, nothing for him would be more fitting than retiring with 69 touchdown catches.
3) The Lap Dance Seen Around the World: The Patriots didn’t play in the Super Bowl last season, partially because Gronkowski was managed down the stretch after injuring his knee in late November. New England dropped four of its last six games, giving up home field advantage.
But even though the Patriots didn’t partake in Super Bowl 50, Gronk played a big role in the week’s festivities. On the set of something called “Whitlock’s House Party by the Bay,” Gronkowski gave an FS1 personality the lap dance of her lifetime.
If most people were to give an impromptu lap dance on live television, they would come across as an overzealous pervert. But in the words of GQ‘s Devin Friedman, “[Gronk] seems to exist in a permanent shower of champagne spray and nightclub-foam-party foam, all without ever seeming like a creepy douchebag.”
That is the essence of Gronk.