Before the Summer of Gronk went dark, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had an opportunity to be interviewed by Outsports.com. And he initially declined.
At the red carpet at the ESPYs, Cyd Zeigler Jr. asked Gronkowski to answer a few questions, explaining to Gronkowski that the site is “ESPN for homos.” Per Zeigler, Gronkowski initially declined, which made him (per Zeigler) the first pro athlete to refuse to talk about gay issues in sports.
Gronkowski explained that he feared saying the wrong thing. Eventually, he agreed to answer two questions.
Question one: “Have you ever played with a gay teammate?”
After pausing, Gronkowski said he didn’t know of any.
Question two: “How would you feel if one of your teammates on the Patriots came out of the closet this season?”
“If that’s how they are, that’s how they are,” Gronkowski said. “I mean, we’re teammates so, as long as he’s being a good teammate and being respectful and everything, that’s cool.”
It’s a shame he answered only two questions, because the obvious follow-up would have been, “What would constitute ‘being respectful and everything’?” Which could have prompted an answer that would have shed more light on Gronkowski’s possible attitudes and biases than the superficial, politically correct “sure, I’m fine with it” response that any pro athlete is going to provide when speaking on the record.
Gronkowski, unlike many pro athletes, applied a qualification to the standard response. And the explanation of Gronk’s qualification could have been more revealing than his photo on the cover of the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine.