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Rob Gronkowski opens up about injuries, relationship with Tom Brady, dance moves

12.11.14 at 8:51 am ET

Everyone sees Rob Gronkowski on a weekly basis on the field and sees his outgoing personality to go along with his dominating play, as the tight end has 73 catches for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

In an interview with ESPN’s Lindsay Czarniak for the Dec. 22 issue of ESPN The Magazine, Gronkowski opened up about a number of different things off the field, including his relationship with Tom Brady and just how tough his injuries were to deal with, as well proving his doubters wrong.

The tight end also appears on the cover, photographed with kittens, something that is sure to be joked around about in the Patriots locker room this week.

“Not yet, but I’m sure it will pick up,” Devin McCourty said on Wednesday.

Here are a few highlights from the interview:

Who is the favorite person he has ever caught a pass from?: “Tom Brady, no doubt about it. I still remember that I was shaking the first time he threw me a pass. I was like, “I’ve gotta catch this, I’ve gotta catch this.” It was just a 10-yard pass, a little dumper in warm-ups. I almost dropped it because I was so nervous. It took a couple of practices to get the nerves out of the way.”

On the best advice the quarterback has ever given him: “He always used to yell at me and get on my case. I was like, “Man, this dude, why is he coming at me like that?” He would always be making sure my routes were on point, yelling at me to be where I’ve gotta be. Then he came up to me one day and he was like, “Yo, Rob, you know I love you. I just see a lot of potential in you. I’m just trying to get on the same page. I want your max performance out there.” And when he said that, it all clicked. I was like, “Oh, now I know why he’s being like that.” That actually made me more motivated. I’ve gotta get on the right step. If Tom Brady believes I can ‘€¨do it, then I believe. It was meaningful when he said, “I love you and I see so much potential in you.”

On their relationship: “We have a great relationship. We goof around in the locker room. Out on the field, we have great chemistry and a great connection. We’re good friends for sure, and we feel like we’re way different now than where we were my rookie year.”

What is the hardest part of missing games with injuries?: “The hardest part was just sitting at home and not being able to do anything about it. I’m not a guy who just sits there on the couch and watches TV all day long. I need to get up, I need to be active, I need to be doing things around the house — working out, playing a sport, whatever. Just sitting there, I’m thinking, “Man, I just wish I could shoot hoops right now, or anything.”

On the lowest point in dealing with the injuries: “After the knee injury last year. I had just come back from back surgery, arm surgery, and I missed a few games. I came back halfway through the season last year. When I went down with the knee, I didn’t know what to expect. That night, I was thinking all these crazy thoughts in my head. “What’s going on? Why is this happening? I just got back.”

On what it was like on the X-ray machine last December: “I remember I was on the X-ray machine after they carried me off the field on the cart. I mean, I kind of had a concussion too, so I really don’t remember. But I was actually bawling out on the machine when I was getting X-rays on my knee. And I was holding on to my trainer’s hand and my dad was right there and I was just bawling like, “Is this it? Am I done?” I barely remember any of it. I just remember those little stages of it, because of the concussion.”

On turning his doubters into believers: “The Cincinnati game in Week 5. The first four games, I was playing a little bit, but that’s when I clicked in. I was like, “Dang, I’m feeling good now.” I told my coaches, “I’m ready to roll.” I told my brother, I told my friends: “You’re gonna see something out of me this game.” After that Cincy game, I went into the mindset that I’m taking back over. Ever since then, everyone’s been like, “Man, you turned it up.” No one was believing in me. No one was expecting me to come back like that, but I knew I could do it. I knew I just needed the time and to keep on grinding out every single day.”

On a unique workout habit: “I don’t know, I’m addicted to working out. Before I go to bed, I’ve got to hit my situps and pushups. While I’m watching a TV show, I do pushups. I even watch SpongeBob still, so there we go.”

On his dance moves: “My dance moves are always working no matter where I am. Whether at the house or if I’m out, at the facility working out, practicing, you gotta get the dance moves right. They help out with your footwork.”

“I feel like when I do some dance moves during the week or at the house, I’m quicker on my feet. I can react quicker just from dancing.”

Read More: ESPN The Magazine, Rob Gronkowski,
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