HOUSTON – While his Patriots teammates are dealing with the business of trying to win another Super Bowl, Rob Gronkowski is handling business of another sort.
The sidelined tight end produced and starred in an online TV series that basically is “Shark Tank For Jocks.” And while Gronk can be an overwhelming force on the football field, he’s something of a novice at the television game.
Sure, he and his brothers, both of whom spent time in the NFL, worked in the family business growing up. But football was their calling.
Now, Gronk is spreading his enterprising wings with the Wednesday night “MVP” series on Verizon’s Go90 mobile TV network. The program offers an inside look at how sports stars such as Antonio Brown, Kevin Durant and Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk get connected with brands people see and use every day.
“It’s a chance to be with the athletes and see what their minds are thinking, and the opportunities they get,” Gronkowski says, “and to talk about what other type of sports guys do, to collaborate with that. Just going on the show and having a good time and possibly seeing the products we endorse succeed.
“It’s great value for me to be on the show, meeting other athletes and potential business partners.”
Gronk and the other athletes taped the shows in less than a week last summer. To him, it was an excellent chance to branch out and prepare for when football no longer is his livelihood.
“When the opportunity is right, when I’m in the offseason and have a whole day to myself, a week to myself, I’ll check out those business opportunities, and maybe some TV shows, and possibly hop on,” he says. “Football will not be around forever.
“MVP is a good chance to get something going and maybe find other opportunities in the business area.”
Gronkowski’s business acumen impressed Mark Patricof, managing director of Houlihan Lokey’s Technology Media Telecom Group and the resident financial expert on “MVP.” Patricof says his job on the show was made easier by the way the athletes quickly grasped the tasks at hand – and whether guests making presentations had valid and profitable products.
“It’s fun, educational, and there’s a business story there, so it’s good for sports fans and anyone early in their investing,” Patricof says. “For Gronk and the athletes, I think it is a good service to them. … We read all these things about athletes losing their money. This is a smart, interesting way for people to speak about what are the important decision points you make whether endorsing or investing in something.
“Getting into these deals was one thing, so the questions needed to be asked: ‘How do Gronk and Antonio and Marshall and the guys get money out of it? How do these guys get their money back or monetize this deal?’ I thought there was always a healthy dialogue in that area.”
Gronkowski still has a strong presence with the Patriots regardless of his availability to make catches, run over defenders and score touchdowns.
“I mean, he’s still walking up and down through here all the time,” linebacker Rob Ninkovich says. “So whenever he walks in we’re having a great time with him. So, he’s still here, just doing his best to rehab. It’s still great to see him, and he’s always in great spirits.”
Yeah, well, that’s Gronk. Whether he’s offering some expertise to his replacement, Martellus Bennett – who has been superb for much of the season – or keeping things light with his antics, he very much wants to be considered a major part of the team.
“I see players all the time and it’s great being all around them,” Gronkowski says. “There’s a positive energy around the facility, and being part of it throughout the whole year, it’s been a great journey for sure.
“I wish nothing but the best for the team, they’ve been working so hard all year, they are warriors. Seeing the guys work so hard, you know that has motivated me just to do (rehab) hard, like they do it. It’s my job to be there for them and support them, and that’s what I’m doing.”
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