"I got this question before, about a year ago, and I basically will say the same answer that I did a year ago," he said Wednesday in an interview with Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco on ESPN Radio New York, when asked how the Patriots' locker room would receive an openly gay player. "You've got to accept the player. Everyone has their own ways to live their life and as long as he's respecting me, keeping distance, respecting myself, I'll respect him back.Exactly. That is exactly how NFL fans should look at things.
"If he's being a great teammate and he's a guy on the field doing a great job, well then you've got nothing to complain about. He's another teammate and another friend."
In a follow-up question Wednesday, Gronkowski was asked if he believes his teammates and other NFL players would share his sentiments.Gronk isn't a place kicker or some special teams bencher. Gronk is a 23-year old starter, a marquee name, and big strong man's man of a tight end (forgive the title...I couldn't help it!) He likes to party. He likes his women blond, not too smart, and big breasted. He's got that classic cool ass white-boy's shit eating grin that lets you know he's up for arm wrestling, beer games, and dirty jokes. The guys name ends in with a "ski." Nuff said. He's exactly the kind of guy a bigoted NFL fan would look up to. So when Gronk comes out and says he's for equality and coming out in the NFL, best believe the fans will take note.
"I'm not really sure," he replied. "I never went around asking players on my team or in the NFL, 'Hey, what would you think if someone on our team is gay? How would you take it?' I never thought of that, and never asked anyone that and never tried to find out if there is [a gay player] on the team.
"If someone is on my team and they are a great teammate and a great player on the field, helping the team win -- that's all you've got to ask for."
That, in my view, is going to be the challenge for the NFL: fan acceptance of openly gay players. I have no doubt that for the great majority of players and coaches, this is not an issue whatsoever. They care about production on the field. However, for the fans to get to a point of shrugging shoulders, the players are going to have to be the ones who step forward and lead by example. That is what will convince the fans and once the fans are all in, the owners will follow.
Get healthy and return to the field soon Gronk. Kudos.