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Online Extras: News to Note

February 1, 2012

Gronk-mania takes over Indy

INDIANAPOLIS — In this new, instantaneous, "reality" world we live in, sudden, overwhelming fame without a morsel of talent often is the rule rather than the exception (see the "Jersey Shore" cast).

Enter Rob Gronkowski ... or Gronk, for short. His talent (and fame) are both in abundance.

As the second-year New England Patriot came into view from the tunnel across the field yesterday, walking toward his Super Bowl "media day" interview booth, more than 100 cameras started clicking endlessly.

All of the major sports websites had headlines: "Gronkowski Off The Boot" and "Gronkowski's Ankle Watch Begins."

It was a response one might expect for an international leader rather than a tight end with a gimpy left ankle.

But that's what life is like for Gronkowski, who at 22 is the man of the hour, bigger than media behemoths Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Eli Manning.

"I think it's deserved," said former Super Bowl champion head coach Brian Billick. "He has transformed the position of tight end. We've had some great tight ends. But not like him. He is big and physical, and he's very athletic with quick feet.

"If you put a linebacker on him, he's too athletic to cover. If you put a defensive back on him, he's too big and strong. I don't know how you cover him."

The numbers bear it out. After a stellar rookie season (42 catches, 546 yards and 10 TDs), Gronkowski mauled the record book with single-season NFL records for a tight end in receiving touchdowns (17), total touchdowns (18), and receiving yards (1,327).

That's the stuff of matinee idols, which is exactly what he is around the country and especially here in Indianapolis.

Gronk-mania has been building. He has his own sports apparel line (gronkapparel.com). His post-touchdown spikes — he slams the ball on the turf as hard as he can — have become must-see TV. He's one of the most eligible bachelors in sports as was proven by some racy tweets of an adult film star wearing his game jersey.

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