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Rob Gronkowski comes to URI

By Tim Lima
On April 13, 2012

  • Nine-year-old John asks Rob Gronkowski a question during last night's Student Entertainment Committee-sponsored event. Teresa Kelly | Cigar


Not even a 100-degree fever could keep Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski from having fun while answering questions for hundreds at the University of Rhode Island's Edwards Auditorium last night.

The URI Student Entertainment Committee's speakers committee, led by president Kerrin Suvari, sponsored the event to host the Patriot casually known as "Gronk." Once introduced, he performed as only he knows how - with fun being his main priority. The 22-year-old Patriot explained that he woke up with a high fever, but not wanting to miss the event, he "downed" vitamin-C until he felt well enough to put on a show.

Vice president of concerts for the SEC Maura Quigley explained her delight in having Gronkowski visit URI.

"I am a big Pats fan," Quigley said. "I told my father about this and he said 'make sure you get me an autograph.'"

Gronkowski answered a wide variety of questions throughout the night, including what he eats before a game.

"I don't eat dessert all week, but the night before a game, that is all I eat," said Gronkowski. "I usually gain about four pounds before a game, but then lose six pounds during a game."

A second question came from an audience member, who asked what the biggest adjustment was from college football to professional football.

"In college, coaches are on you 24/7, where in the NFL you go into it on your own," Gronkowski said. "In the [NFL], it is also a much faster game."

Knowing that the Bruins were playing their first playoff game at the time of the event, a third question came from the crowd, asking who Gronk's favorite Bruins player was.

"Probably Chara," Gronkowski said. "Because he's 6-foot-10 and beasts everyone out because he's the biggest dude."

Gronkowski has recently had arthroscopic surgery on his ankle, coming after his injury during last year's AFC Championship Game, but explained that he is no longer wearing his protective walking boot. "Within two weeks I will be 100 percent," Gronkowski said.

After the question-and-answer session concluded, Gronkowski held a pushup competition as well as a hot-sauce drinking competition, with the winners walking away with signed shirts. One shirt, along with a hug, was given to an 81-year-old woman in attendance, who came to URI to see her favorite Patriot.

Along with the shirts, Gronkowski distributed many Dunkin Donuts gift cards, signed footballs, signed mini-helmets and bottles of hot sauce from his hometown of Buffalo.

Though sweating and noticeably sick, Gronkowski stayed for over an hour following the show, signing autographs and taking pictures with his fans. Though the line stretched out of the door, Gronk continued to give autographs and take pictures, unwilling to disappoint.

"It was a blast," Gronkowski said. "It's great when you have a reaction like that. These students are incredible."

Five hundred and ten tickets were sold to the event to see the Patriots tight end, who last year set an NFL record with 17 touchdown receptions in just his second season.

"It's just surreal," Gronkowski said. "It's truly a blessing."

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