FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Like so many New Englanders, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is a frequent visitor to the drive-thru at his local Foxborough Dunkin Donuts. Tuesday morning, though, the record-setting All-Pro was on the other side of the window serving up customers as part of his new ad campaign with the coffee and donut king.
"Gronk if you love Dunkin Donuts!" That's what Gronkowski told customers as he served up coffees, some of which came in an autographed cup.
Coming off the greatest statistical season in the history of the NFL by a tight end, this day had the frat boy tight end in the red No. 87 Patriots jersey joyfully asking people if they wanted "their penny" after their $1.99 coffee purchase.
And as with seemingly everything he does, Gronkowski appeared to be loving every minute of the kickoff event of his new two-year deal with one of New England's best-known brands.
"We actually have a tradition for the Patriots, every Saturday morning a rookie has to get Dunkin Donuts for the team. So I'm always eating the donuts," said Gronkowski, whose donut of choice is a chocolate glazed. "They're tasty. It's just a great partnership to be part of Dunkin Donuts. I'm having a blast. Great people behind everything."
After Gronkowski was done serving up coffees and smiles for the drive-thru customers, he met with the media to talk a little football. Wearing a walking boot that's replaced a cast since his February surgery to repair an injured left ankle, Gronkowski was quite upbeat about his health.
"It's great. I'm like six and a half weeks out of surgery. I'm just getting better every day, taking it week by week and day by day," Gronkowski said with his trademark smile. "I'm walking around now. Everything is on pace. Hopefully I'm 100 percent when it comes down to the time I'm supposed to be."
He's not sure yet when he'll get out of the walking boot, but that day doesn't seem to be far off.
"I don't know yet. That's all in a couple more weeks," Gronkowski said. "I'm just getting better every single day. I feel way better than last week. I feel way better since the first day of the surgery. It's coming along really well. Here on out, day by day, whatever I can do I'll be doing it. I'm definitely trying to get out there as soon as possible."
When he does get back to work, he'll have some new offensive teammates as the Patriots have been active adding wide receivers and another tight end – Daniel Fells – this spring.
"Basically I'm just worried about myself and what I can do to improve and get better in the offseason," Gronkowski said. "But those are all great players and I'm definitely excited to meet all the guys coming in. It's always great to get guys on your team who want to work hard and help the team out."
Considered the best all-around tight end in the game after just two NFL seasons, Gronkowski will also be dealing with a new position coach. Brian Ferentz left the team to join his father's coaching staff at Iowa and the team has yet to announce a replacement, although George Godsey would seem to be the likely in-house candidate after serving as an offensive assistant last season.
"[Ferentz] is a great coach. I'm definitely going to miss the guy. I learned a lot from him," Gronkowski said. "I'm definitely going to apply what I learned from him in the following years. Just because he left doesn't mean I can't still use his techniques, his way that he runs things. It's just another coach that's going to be adding on to the things that he taught me. I'm just going to get better in every way and just apply whatever the coaches teach me."
But all that football talk is for the future. Tuesday the growing legend that is Gronk was just happy to be aligning himself with the Dunkin Donuts brand.
"It was a pleasure. It was a blast," Gronkowski reiterated of the event. "I got to see all the employees that…I'm always going through this drive through like twice a week every time I'm around town. Now I get to meet them all after them serving me all the time. It was fun just going to the drive thru. I met one customer that said they have a puppy named after me, named Gronk. So that was pretty cool. I did a couple signatures on the cups. A lot of people were happy going through the drive thru."