Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker held a press conference Friday with a special guest -- former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The reason for the press conference was to announce a $1.2 million donation from Gronkowski and the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation to fund a full renovation of the Charlesbank Playground, located in the state Department of Conservation and Recreation's Charles River Reservation Esplanade.
"Building a playground was an idea that I thought of because I wanted to show appreciation for the amazing support that I have received while playing in New England," Gronkowski said. "Having it on the Esplanade in Boston, where the duck boats ride down the river, makes this extra special for me."
The new playground will modernize the existing playscape and bring more accessible equipment to ensure that kids of all levels and abilities can enjoy the space.
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"Rob Gronkowski is a lot of things, right? But the thing I think gets lost sometimes amidst all the other things everybody thinks they know about him is he's a big man with a big heart," Baker said. "He's one of those guys that probably gets 1,000 asks a week for and about supporting kids. There's no doubt in my mind based on our experience in real life that whenever he could find a way and an opportunity to do something for kids, he did."
A bill has already been submitted to the Massachusetts Legislature to rename the Charlesbank Playground the Gronk Playground.
Gronkowski played nine seasons for the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls before retiring from the team in March of 2019. His retirement lasted just 13 months before he decided to joint Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, where he went on to win a fourth Super Bowl title.
He thanked the Patriots on Friday, specifically team owner Robert Kraft, who he said taught him the importance of giving back "the very first day I stepped into that organization."
Gronkowski also thanked the New England fans.
"I'm humbled to be part of this amazing city," he said, "and give back in this way for generations to come."
But he didn't leave the city without a little of his trademark Gronk goofiness, remarking aloud about the giant check he presented at the end of Friday's donation ceremony.
"This is what I'm talking about -- $1.2 million dollars, baby! Happy Gilmore-type checks," he said, referencing the 1996 Adam Sandler comedy. "We need Happy Gilmore 2."