By Tim Graham
You'll recognize the guy on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. He's that kid who played for Williamsville North High School, was taken one draft choice after the Buffalo Bills selected Torell Troup and has redefined what an NFL tight end is capable of.
That's New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, and his family is the cover story for this year's NFL preview double issue.
In "The Last Happy Man," SI reporter Chris Ballard takes an in depth look at the "Patron Saint of Meatheads" and his prolific social life, with glimpses of what family life was like growing up in Amherst with three future NFL players under one roof and a fourth possibly on the way.
Ballard writes: Rob Gronkowski is an "idiot, jester, hero, foil, buffoon and prodigy, the embodiment of a pathetic bro-centric culture.''
"People say, 'He's doing way too many things,' but [I do them] because I got nothing to do," Gronkowski tells Ballard. "That's why I hit up every charity event, why I hit up every party I'm invited to. If I'm just sitting at home, that's not productive. That's boring. I like going out, meeting new people, having a good time. I guess that's why I'm all over the papers. I don't have any girlfriends, no kids. Basically I work out two hours every single day, and then I have 12 hours to do whatever I want."
Also in Sports Illustrated this week, Peter King delivers his 2012 predictions.
King has the Buffalo Bills going 9-7, squeaking out the second wild-card playoff berth and losing in the first round to the AFC West champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.
King's Super Bowl prediction is the Green Bay Packers over the Denver Broncos, 33-30.
One quibble with King's predictions: He has Romeo Crennel winning coach of the year.
If the Bills make it to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, then Chan Gailey would have to be the favorite. Voters historically honor the coach who overcomes the longest odds to reach the postseason, and the Chiefs were there two years ago and went 7-9 last year.