What happened when E:60 sent normally subdued and cerebral reporter Jeremy Schaap into a land far, far away?
“I enjoyed my time in the wonderful world of the Gronks,” said Schaap, referring to the time he was able to spend with New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski and his family. “The day I first met them, they were shooting a spread for Muscle and Fitness magazine. I declined to participate; I didn’t want to make them look bad.”
While “Gronk” has been making defenses look bad for two-plus seasons as the Patriots’ devastating tight end, it’s the complete package of on- and off-field antics that piqued E:60 producer John Minton III’s interest in the 23-year-old for tonight’s episode of the award-winning show.
“We spent a large part of Mother’s Day weekend with Rob, his father, Gordy and his four brothers,” said Minton, who also produced last year’s memorable Scott Hall feature for E:60. “. . . Rob took us to the Ale House in Amherst, NY where his brothers, family and friends from the area met for lunch and provided a tutorial of the fine cuisine suburban Buffalo has to offer. The two dishes most talked about were the Crown Royal wings, and the “Stingers”, a combination of steak and chicken fingers on a hoagie roll.”
There were several more visits and shoots with “Gronk” over the next few months, including extended time in June in the Foxboro, Mass. area and a trip to Los Angeles for the ESPYS and an “Access Hollywood” appearance to discuss ESPN The Magazine’s “Body Issue.”
“We tagged along with Rob during one of his many charitable engagements (near Boston), this time for the ‘One Mission’s Buzz for Kids’ event where Rob shaved his head to raise awareness for cancer,” Minton III said.
It was during that day of shooting when Schaap and Gronk went grocery shopping in what became a memorable segment of the 15-plus minute piece airing tonight (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).
“That was easily one of the most entertaining shoots I’ve ever seen,” Minton III said.
Tonight’s feature depicts Gronk in what Minton III termed his “natural habitat,” where “he’s just “Rob” to anyone that crosses his path from his childhood,” Minton III said. “He takes and gives the jokes just like any friend would, while still cowering like a child when one of his much smaller friends pretends to take a jab at him. His personality captivates a room, even a room full of other Gronkowski’s. People love to be around him, and it’s easy to see why. He’s a big kid, in both the literal and figurative sense, constantly bringing a smile to peoples’ faces.”
Also featured in tonight’s E:60 are stories on the NFL’s hottest Twitter feud — between Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy and New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora (reported by Lisa Salters) and a feature on former Colorado Rockies catcher Ben Petrick who was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s (Buster Olney).