The Gronkowski Men – It Starts with Family
Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “I could attain their level of success if I were only born into it.” While some people do inherit success, others create it. If you don’t come from a successful family, a successful family can come from you!
Today, I’ve got one of the greatest American and business life stories of all time RIGHT HERE on The Ed Myllet Show. It is with great pleasure to have the men of the Gronkowski family, Gordon Sr. (the dad), Gordie, Dan, Chris, Rob, and Glenn, all here to share their incredible story of success. They’ve ALL played professional sports in the NFL or MLB and have become successful multimillion-dollar entrepreneurs and even a New York Times bestselling author!
I’ve never interviewed this many people at once before and especially not on Zoom, but to do this story justice, we needed all 6 of these family members to join me. If you want to become a better entrepreneur, a better parent, a better leader, or be more fit, this interview is DEFINITELY for you! Even if you know NOTHING about sports, this interview is for you. You’ll learn from the family who has the receipts to back up their talk!
This interview is filled with REAL ADVICE and REAL STRATEGIES from the REAL DEAL! Get ready to be inspired by a family who defines the meaning of MAXOUT.
Who Are the Gronkowskis?
The Gronkowskis are a family of legends — five sons, four of whom played in the NFL, and the other played professional baseball. These five amazing humans all grew up to become professional athletes while having fun in the process. In addition to being athletes, they are becoming elite level entrepreneurs, creating a Gronk Nation clothing line, fitness products, and the Ice Shaker brand.
Gordie Gronkowski is the oldest son who attended Jacksonville University and played baseball. His freshman year, he was named an All-American, and his stats were literally out of the park. In 2006, Gordie was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels, and in 2008, he went to play for Southern Illinois. Currently, Gordie manages the Gronk Fitness expansion in Boston.
Dan Gronkowski, the second oldest, showed his football promise early in high school and continually broke school records. He attended The University of Maryland and set his focus on football. As he pursued his professional football career, he also managed to snag an MBA in the process. After being drafted in the NFL, Dan went on to play for the Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and the Cleveland Browns.
Chris Gronkowski is the middle brother, who attended The University of Maryland, where he played as a fullback, and then transferred to The University of Arizona, where he played as a linebacker. In his NFL career, Chris played for the Dallas Cowboys, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Denver Broncos.
Rob Gronkowski (a.k.a. Gronk), the second youngest, perhaps has the most impressive record. He attended the University of Arizona, and as a true freshman, his 18.8 yards per reception average was the best on the team. He was named a Sporting News freshman All-American, and the New England Patriots drafted him in 2010. He became the first rookie in Patriots History, and he was named as the 9th best player in the NFL in 2016. Tom Brady has described him as, “Gronk is a one of a kind person, player, and friend. He is one of the most positive people I have ever been around, and he loves to have fun.”
Last but certainly not least, we have the youngest brother: Glenn Gronkowski. He attended Kansas State University where he was named First team Academic All-District 7 and First team Academic All-Big 12 in 2014. In his NFL career, Glenn joined the Buffalo Bills as the starting fullback, and then went on to sign with the New England Patriots practice squad.
It’s undeniable that this type of perpetual success MUST have A LOT to do with how these men were raised. I had the pleasure of also interviewing their father: Gordon Sr. reveals what he did to prepare his sons to excel mentally and physically. Gordon didn’t come from the traditional definition of success. From having the lights turned off in his family home and an abusive father, Gordon is PROOF that you don’t have to come from success to CREATE success!
The odds of having ALL of your 5 children grow up to play professional sports are 1 in 31 MILLION! Add on top of that, all 5 going on to find success in business and entrepreneurship is MIND-BLOWING! As crazy as it sounds, it happened, and they are here to share their story! Let’s dive in!
The Mental Toughness and Competitive Mindset of the Gronk Family
I wanted to start the interview with Gordon Sr., the patriarch of the family legacy. He’s always been at the center of what’s happened with his sons, in the sports and business worlds, and something I’ve always noticed about the Gronks is their mental toughness. This competitive and hard-working mindset is the centerpiece of their family, and so I wanted to understand how Gordon Sr. imbued that in his sons as they grew up. Surprisingly, it didn’t take too much work:
“As I grew older … I didn’t have to really get involved anymore because they just got each other going constantly … I knew they had more talent than the other kids because I coached them all … I didn’t have to … push them that much cause they pushed themselves. It was a great thing for a dad to see. It was a phenomenal thing to see how they pushed each other.” – Gordon Sr.
I asked Gordon if that competition ever got out of hand, but for the Gronkowski family, competition is something that pushes people up and not down. When you won, you had a reason to be proud. But Gordy always reminded his sons to be humble, because there was always work to be done and ways to improve.
“My rule in the house was ‘no punching in the face and no punching in the midsection,’ and they used to go at it all the time. It was a good brawl every single day, and it was a competition … I set up trophy racks, and each one had their own trophy case. And then, and it was like a competition — who got the trophies downstairs? … they were proud of themselves, but they stayed humble about it too.” – Gordon Sr.
You can see where all that competition and mental toughness placed the Gronkowski sons today. All five of them have played professional sports and become widely successful. Not only are they all naturally talented, but they also have a father who cares deeply for them and wants them to succeed. It’s a blessing for them to have a dad like Gordon — someone who pushes them and loves them fiercely.
Leaving Professional Sports and Becoming Entrepreneurs
I have some friends who are former athletes that really struggle after their professional career ends. And even if you’re not an athlete, you can relate to this, right? Maybe you lose a job, go through a divorce, or lose a friend, and you feel like your life can never be purposeful again. If you’re going through a life transition, you must find something you’re passionate about to devote your time, energy, and goals towards.
I asked Gordie (Gordon Jr.) if he ever felt this way when he left baseball, and here was his response:
“It’s so hard to walk away, and most people are walking away, not on the terms they want to walk away. I think that’s where the biggest challenge is … if they feel like they left something behind that they haven’t been able to finish. And I know I’ve been at that point, even when I was released … when I was hurt in my third year … I still wanted to finish my career on the note I wanted to finish my career. Um, and then when I got there, you know, yes, it wasn’t the major leagues, but I was able to step away from minor league baseball when I wanted to step away from it.” – Gordie
After stepping away from baseball, Gordie knew that he had to channel his competitive nature and passion into something else. If he did nothing, then all that drive and energy would fizzle out. With the help of his father and his brother, Gordie entered the world of entrepreneurship, and that competitive nature served him well.
“You go from making all that money, probably not saving it the way you should be saving it, and then you’re now trying to find your way in the real world without really having any experience … [Athletes] struggle with jumping into the ‘world’ world. And I think that’s where us as brothers have been able to lean on each other and lean on our parents — to be able to take the next steps once we were ready and to transition into the business world.” – Gordie
Gordie brings up a great point — you must have people that will push you and motivate you to pursue your goals even when you don’t feel like going forward. Chris Gronkowski also had some fantastic advice as well for anyone looking to start their own business. His company Ice Shaker has been very successful, and here are his tips for anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur:
“[The] first thing [you need] has to be passion … You have to absolutely love [it] because it’s going to be a grind, and it’s going to be a long grind. And if you don’t love it, you’re going to give up on it early. So first find something that you absolutely love and take it slow. I tell people to take it slow because it’s hard to jump all in. You can’t just throw everything, you know, you have to prove it first. So that’s what I did with my business. And it was a side hustle at first, a very small investment at birth until I proved that it was successful. And then at that point it was let’s go, let’s go all in and let’s go hard! … [You got to] absolutely love it, take it slow, let it build, [and] let it grow.” – Chris
The Gronkowskis took the same lessons they learned in sports over to the business world: PASSION, CALCULATION, and DRIVE. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody, just like the NFL isn’t for everybody. It takes a special type of person to become successful at building their own business. Do you have what it takes?
Dan Gronkowski on The Importance of Brotherly Support
Something that kept coming up in our conversation was how the brothers support each other, even in the midst of a highly competitive environment. Instead of pushing each other down, they pulled each other up and celebrated each other’s success. I asked Dan if there had ever been any jealousy issues, especially surrounding Rob’s hugely successful NFL career, and this is what he had to say:
“Not for me! Every once in a while I [have] to kind of think and be like, I actually played in the NFL too. Cause you almost forget because Rob — he’s one of the best players ever … I mean, [he] outshines any of our brother’s careers … So you gotta sit back once in a while and be like, I actually did that too. It’s not just Rob … it’s awesome what he is doing. We all support him, and we’re all our best fans.” – Dan
Competition can often get out of hand, causing jealousy and bitterness, but the Gronkowski family is the perfect example of what healthy competition looks like. Their mental toughness drives them always to be better, and they use each other’s successes to fuel their own drive and passion.
Are you using competition to your advantage? Or are you letting jealousy take ahold of you? It’s a fine line, but when you can walk it correctly, you’ll be blown away by the results you’ll produce.
The Real Reason Rob Gronkowski Retired from the NFL
Out of all the brothers, Rob Gronkowski (aka Gronk) has achieved the largest level of success in his NFL career, but in 2019, he announced his retirement from the NFL at the age of 29. I wanted to hear the reasons behind his retirement from the man himself.
“[Injuries were] definitely an element of it … I was for sure beat up … and it’s kinda like a tough environment. Like you go in and ask for a day off and the coaches look at you like …. ‘what do you mean a day off?’ … I kinda set the bar really too high when I first got there because when I was a rookie, I was trying to prove myself. I was there for every rep.” – Rob
Because he was a rookie, Rob didn’t know how to say, “no.” His teammates realized that he would do anything, and it continued year after year. The body can only take so much, and after years of pushing and pushing, his body could never heal. He experienced chronic pain and sometimes couldn’t even walk.
“I would say that just overall … I needed a break from practice. I needed a break from games. I needed a break on my body because I did play football for what, 16 years straight … And then on top of it, off-season we were going ham, my brothers and I … We would have limo buses. And guess what? The ride home on the limo bus would be a football game and a football game.” – Rob
Rob brings up an incredible piece of advice. You have to give yourself a healing period. I am all about the grind and pushing your body and mind to do INCREDIBLE things, but if you never give yourself time to rest, you’ll run yourself into the ground. And rest doesn’t have to mean doing “nothing” — it can mean doing something different.
Glenn Gronkowski and Gordon Sr. on Putting Academics First
Before we wrapped up the interview, I wanted to talk to the brothers about balancing football with their college education. Glenn Gronkowski, the youngest brother, proudly calls himself the “smartest” of the family.
“Yeah, because I’m the smartest one in the family … 3.9 overall average all while playing college sports … [I] had to donate one to Rob so he could have a degree, but now we always put academics first. Chris got a degree from Harvard. Dan was a Rhode Scholar applicant … Rob has a degree from me.” – Glenn
For professional athletes, the Gronkowskis made school a big deal. As he raised his sons, Gordon Sr. always made sure that academics were a priority and that they were never second to sports.
“School came first, no matter what, school came first. [There were] actually times that I sat them out of games and just because they didn’t do the work and then they didn’t think they had to. And I said, no school comes first. When it’s all said and done, you better have an education, you know, to back you up.” – Gordon Sr.
I think this mindset is what prepared the Gronkowski sons for entrepreneurship. They dominated the sports world, but that’s something that you can’t continue forever. You have to have a fall-back, something that you’re passionate about and you can put your mental energy towards.
“It was a huge influence … when you go play sports and you’re educated — it’s a deadly combination. It’s a combination for success because what you learn in sports is incredible … once you find something you love and you have the passion to surround yourself by great people and it’s all gonna work out for you, but you’ve gotta want it. And if you don’t want it, you know, don’t waste your time doing it.” – Gordon Sr.
Their background in professional sports and academics prepared the Gronkowskis for successful entrepreneurial careers. And not only this, but their father was such a perfect example of what it meant to be hard-working, motivated, and passionate. This family is the DEFINITION of #MAXOUT.
#MAXOUT with the Gronkowski Family
Guys — I absolutely loved this interview, and I know you will too. If you want to hear more about the Gronkowskis, give them all a follow on social media. You’ll be amazed by how much you will learn from them. You’ll become more fit. You’ll be more inspired. And you’re gonna laugh. Each brother brings something unique to the table.
When you look at successful families like the Gronkowskis, you may think that they’ve always been that way. But here’s the thing — family success all boils down to one person who showed up — one person who changed the family tree and fought for their family. Gordon Sr. is that guy. He changed his family and inspired his sons to become the best athletes, businessmen, and humans they could be.
Don’t forget to use the #MAXOUT hashtag and tell me your biggest takeaways in the comments below! I read them every week and select winners who get all sorts of prizes, gear, and even coaching calls with me! I love hearing from all of you, and please share the interview with anyone you think needs to hear it too!
Are you a CHAMPION? Do you have the mental toughness and perseverance to carry you through adversity? Listen to this interview with the Gronkowskis, and you’ll find out.