Welcome Back, Rob Gronkowski

The tight end says he'll play on Sunday.

Associated Press

Associated Press

Compare and contrast the ways in which Rob Gronkowski played up his return to the field following an injury. Last October, after his agent told the media that doctors had cleared the tight end to play, he released a sappy, triumphant pump-up video that reflected on his recovery. The Public Garden ducklings got dressed up for the occasion. Seven games later came a blow to his knee and another long recovery.

There will always be a to-do around a talented and well-liked player’s return from injury, but this time around, Gronk seems to be seeking less fanfare. The team’s surprise trade of Logan Mankins for the Buccaneers tight end Tim Wright had many wondering about Gronk’s status. Rather than keep us in suspense all week, Gronk scooped his own team and told reporters himself that he’d be playing in the season opener this week.

“I’m good to go. I’ll be playing,” he said, laughing when reporters told him that he beat the organization to an announcement. “Yeah, yeah, I’m just getting it out of the way there,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to face the question every day this week.

Gronk’s comeback is a big deal in Patriots Nation, but Gronk talked a lot about learning humility in the past few years. “I’m humbled to the max,” he said. “The only thing I can do is work hard every single day and come in, be quiet, listen to the coaches, listen to the training staff, and try to get to where I was before, from the beginning.”

Of course, Gronk will always be Gronk, and he didn’t spend his time away in total monkish solitude. He and Julian Edelman got into an Inception-style game of T-shirt one-upmanship. He had a cameo in the Entourage movie. He’s remained a goofy presence in our collective consciousness. But nothing endears him to fans as much as his on-field contributions. Here’s to hoping his recovery sticks.