Patriots Nation, get ready to meet the Gronkowskis – but not the ones you may be thinking.
While the Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and his family hail from New York, Siegfried and Kerstin Gronkowski – no relation – represent the Patriots in Frankfurt, Germany. Siegfried said he has been playing football with American friends back home for more than 20 years, and where they are from the Patriots are the NFL team of choice.
When Rob Gronkowski was drafted, Siegfried said his odd last name was put on the map and his choice to root for the Patriots was cemented even more.
"You must understand, in Germany it is the same as in the States. Gronkowski is a strange name," Siegfried said. "In school, it was 'Gronkowski? How do you spell it? How do you spell it?' Now, it's 'Gronkowski? Do you have something to do with this football player?'"
While they have a soft spot for their namesake player, Gronk is not the only player they cheer on.
"[Julian] Edelman is fantastic. The whole team is fantastic," Siegfried said.
"We like the whole team," Kerstin said with a smile.
The Gronkowskis came to United States for the first time to catch the Patriots hosting both the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans on Sept. 18 and 22 respectively. Being at Gillette Stadium and a part of the electric home opener crowd was a vast change from the Gronkowskis usual game day routine.
Siegfried said they missed only one game last season, and for some matchups, they will stay up until late in the night or early in the morning for the kickoff and go straight to work once it ends.
While Siegfried said the Patriots are "No. 1" in Germany and many of his friends root for New England, it was special to be immersed in the energy of game day at Gillette Stadium – even if it was a little weird to see their last name everywhere.
"You see it on TV, then you get here and just the atmosphere … the people out here in the parking lot," Siegfried said. "Everybody's friendly and totally Patriots. Everybody else has your name on the back of their jersey. It's fun."
And, of course, both wore their No. 87 jerseys.