Rob Gronkowski is an immensely-talented tight end, but like Jason Witten, he might not yet be an ideal fit as an NFL analyst.
The retired (for now) Patriots tight end made his debut as a Fox Sports studio analyst ahead of the Patriots’ win over the Giants on Thursday Night Football and quickly caught the attention of fans on social media with his lightweight assessment of Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman.
“You want to know why Julian Edelman calls himself the squirrel? That’s because he is a squirrel,” Gronkowski said of his former teammate, sounding more like a WWE hype man than an NFL analyst. “Most importantly, whenever he gets a chance, he gets that nut.”
During halftime, Gronk returned to opine about 49ers tight end George Kittle, offering cringe-worthy praise for his apparently unique devotion to the weight room.
“You can see he loves lifting weights, he loves being strong,” Gronkowski said. “And whenever he gets the ball, he just wants to go all the way to the end zone.”
Gronkowski also agreed with Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez that Kittle and Travis Kelce of the Chiefs were the league’s top two tight ends “hands down.” Neither thought to mention Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who set the NFL record for most receptions in a season by a tight end last year.
Needless to say, sports media pundits had a field day ripping Gronkowski’s broadcast debut.
Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina wrote that “his brain almost exploded on national television” while trying to say the word “elusive.” Front Office Sports’ Mike McCarthy questioned why Fox made him play the role “of Wild & Crazy Guy crossed with Bug-Eyes Pro Wrestling Huckster.” Boston Herald contributor Bill Speros (known as the “Obnoxious Boston Fan") called Gronkowski’s performance “'Jersey Shore’ bad.”
The outlier was the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn, who wrote that Gronkowski’s “effortless charisma and energetic good nature came through,” but also called Fox’s pregame show a “hammy debacle.”
The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand wrote on Thursday that Fox plans to feature Gronkowski in mostly taped segments. Judging by Thursday night’s performance, that seems like the correct approach. That or rejoining the Patriots, something Gronkowski didn’t exactly close the door on.
“It’s always going to be open in my mind. I love the game of football, you know,” Gronkowski said. “I’ll always keep it open. I’ll always keep the door open.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr responds to attack from Trump
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters he regretted not riding his tricycle to his press conference after being mocked by President Trump.
Amid an ongoing saga between the NBA and China, Trump said Kerr was “like a little boy who was so scared" after the normally-outspoken coach sidestepped a question about Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s since-deleted tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters.
On Thursday, ahead of the Warriors’ preseason match-up against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kerr told reports it was “surreal” to be mocked by the president of the United States, and just another sign of the decline of the office under Trump.
“It was really surprising,” Kerr said. “Then you stop and you think, well this is just every day. This is just another day. I was the shiny object yesterday. There was another one today, there will be a new one tomorrow, and the circus will go on. So it’s just strange, but it happened.”
“My hope is that we can find a mature unifier from either party to sit in that chair and try to restore some dignity to the Oval Office again," Kerr added.
• Philly sports talk legend Tony Bruno did his normal Thursday Night Football pre-game gig for 97.3 ESPN. But instead of broadcasting from Screwballs Bar and Grille in King of Prussia alongside Harry Mayes, Bruno joined the show from bed while recovering from surgery for fissures he’s been suffering from since July.
“First time ever. Have done underwater, helicopter, hot air ballon and shows on amusement rides, but never in bed,” Bruno told the Inquirer.
• One cool moment during Fox’s Thursday Night Football broadcast was Joe Buck pointing out there are just five players who were born in the 1970s who remain in the league — quarterbacks Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Josh McCown, and kickers Adam Vinateri and Matt Bryant.
• The Houston Astros defeated the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday night to win their playoff series, and will face off against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series beginning Saturday. Cue this classic Astros/Yankees moment from Seinfeld: