Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski as New England Patriots embrace after Gronkowski scored a touchdown against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 25, 2015, in Foxboro, Mass. Gronkowski came out of retirement and will be joining Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

In times of darkness, we need heroes. Heroes such as Rob Gronkowski.

Sure, the Gronk performs a non-essential service. And, granted, he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. And, yes, he may be actively dangerous. He is exactly the sort of wear-a-backward-ballcap-to-a-funeral bro they create COVID snitch lines for.

But Gronk represents a sort of hope. Emphasis on “sort of.”

Story continues below advertisement

That’s the NFL’s new tagline – “hope.” It isn’t desperately trying to rescue billions of dollars of revenue that will be lost if the pandemic interrupts its operation. Why are you so cynical? The league is here to light the way for the rest of us with its positivity.

“People look to us for optimism,” NFL boss Roger Goodell told ESPN the other day. “They look to us for bringing communities together. I think the draft is a great example of that, with restoring hope. It’s hope for our fans.”

Yes, drafts restore hope. It’s a proved, scientific fact. We should all try this. Walk into a local business and say, “Here’s who I’d like to be served by today. That one. She looks competent. She’s my top pick. Not that one. He looks addlepated. I’m taking him off my board.”

I miss football, too, but I miss it less when the parties involved talk about it this way. Sports is not “hope.” Not unless they’re starting up a National Epidemiology League.

Sports is a distraction from the things that are out there crushing hope. There’s a difference.

Sports is also a parasite. The PGA Tour has announced it will spin the game back up in June by instituting a regime that constantly tests players and staff for infection. It is hoping to lay its hands on a million coronavirus tests in order to do so.

A million sounds like a lot, especially when people who are actively sick can’t figure out how to get tested.

Story continues below advertisement

But you know what the CDC says. We need to pay special mind to a few groups if we’re going to get through this together – medical staff, the infirm and caddies.

If you’re going to play sports then, yes, I will watch it. I may even cry. But easy on the platitudes. These are businesses doing what businesses do – make money any which way they can.

Gronk represents something different.

It’s not hope, exactly. It’s something more like heedlessness combined with joie de vivre. Remember when you last felt heedless and/or joyous? Yeah, me neither.

Life is made up largely of automatic behaviours. You don’t think about most of the things you do. You just do them.

Not any more. Now everything’s a conscious decision.

Story continues below advertisement

Do you leave the apartment? That’s a half-hour debate with yourself. If the yes’s take it, you’re going to have to put on pants. That’s the only easy choice of your day because you only wear one pair of pants any more. The pyjama bottoms with the hole in the crotch. Walking makes the hole worse, but whatever. Carpe diem.

Once you leave, are you seriously getting in the elevator? If you hit the button with your elbow, is that better than pressing it with your finger? You’re not likely to stick your elbow in your mouth, but still, make a mental note to delouse from the shoulders down.

Where exactly are you going? Is going there worth it? Once you get there, what if there’s a line? Worse, what if there’s no line. That’s how you end up packed into a Bulk Barn with a bunch of other flour-hoarding disease vectors.

So in the end, you do not leave the apartment. That means you have no glamour shots of homemade sourdough to put on Instagram, the sort you think say, “I am thriving in adversity!”, but really say, “I am a week, maximum, from a rubber room!”

I don’t know about you, but my brain is quite small and feeble and was not designed for this much wear and tear.

That’s me, and then there’s Gronk.

Story continues below advertisement

Gronk is having a wonderful pandemic. Somehow, he is everywhere. He’s doing home improvements, playing basketball with himself and riding a tandem bike with a friend. Absolutely no baking of any sort. Also, he managed to win a wrestling championship on live TV. As you do.

You’re trying to figure out the best method for opening doors with your feet and Gronk is over there on a permanent VIP spring break.

Then on Monday, Gronkowski decided to unretire. Simultaneously, he was traded by the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

You get Tom Brady’s calculation here. The quarterback has just tossed more than two decades worth of goodwill in exchange for a new life in (shudder) Florida. The only way this works out for him is if he wins a Super Bowl. Even out of game shape and with a lot of hard miles on him, Gronkowski is still the best receiving tight end in NFL history.

But what’s Gronk’s angle? Why, in the midst of everything that’s going on, with his long history of injury and given that he is a big enough brand to do anything he wants, would he return to already finished business?

Because why not, bro?

Story continues below advertisement

Gronk doesn’t think too hard about things. He just does them.

Gronk is a prepandemic man living in our pandemic world.

He doesn’t need the money. He’s got plenty of attention. Which means the only reason Gronk can be doing this is for fun.

You don’t see sports leagues banging on about fun because it sounds frivolous. It isn’t.

Fun is what happens once you have hope. When we are once again capable of fun on a large scale, things will be better. Best not to lose sight of that.

Remember fun? Vaguely. That was before our minds tipped into a permanent state of alert readiness.

Story continues below advertisement

That’s what Gronk does. That’s his pandemic purpose. He reminds us, in his insignificant and charming way, what fun looks like.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies