Once, as I sat at my desk making phone calls, a valued boss said to me, "Why don't you get out of the office and go see these people? Nobody ever learns anything sitting in an office park."
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Since it was a telemarketing job, the advice made little sense at that particular moment. However, the overall point is a good one.You gotta get out, be among the people. You never know when you might blunder into something.
I was reminded of that Sunday afternoon when, at an event in South Boston to help raise money for Horizons For Homeless Children, a co-worker announced, "Gronk's outside on the sidewalk with another big dude."
Now, this event was a Celebrity Circuit Challenge at a great gym called Everybody Fights run by George Foreman III. I encourage you to check it out and ask you to consider donating volunteer time to Horizons.
But - unlike Troy Brown, Jermaine Wiggins, Aron Baynes, Robert Williams, Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun), Charlie Davies, James Fahey (Cannons) and Scott Caldwell (Revs) - Gronk was not one of the participating celebs.
I went outside to confirm. Confirmed. There was Gronk with another big dude. They were both talking to somebody inside through an open window. It was raining and Gronk, wearing shorts and a black windbreaker, had the hood up and the strings tied so that just the middle of his face was visible.
He pointed in the window and began explaining why the greatest tight end of all-time was - one week into his retirement at the age of 29 - standing on the sidewalk in the rain his head poked into a window.
"That's my friend, Jim," he said, pointing at a guy inside doing sit-ups. "We just came to check on his workout."
The guy inside nodded his confirmation that he was indeed Jim. He didn't stop doing his sit-ups.
This was not a media access period and, in my experience, the best way to scare a 6-6, 265-pound tight end away is to start peppering him with questions, so I congratulated him on his decision instead.
Then I added, "I thought you were gonna tell me before you announced!"
He actually had. In December, I mentioned that things move fast in the offseason and that I didn't want to be misinformed so could he keep me in the loop?
"I got you," he said at the time.
He didn't have me.
"I didn't tell ANYBODY!" he replied, clapping his hands, proud as he could possibly be that nobody really knew his plans until he announced them on Instagram.
"Lemme ask just one question," I implored. "Do you think there's any chance that, around Thanksgiving, you might be back playing?"
His eyebrows went up. His eyes widened. His mouth made a little O. He shook his head.
"I'm into new opportunities," he said, pointing at Jim. "I was at CVS today with Jim. Bagged all his stuff. I might do that, be a bagger. I might open a dog-walking business, be a dog-walker, I don't know."
He kept rocking from one foot to another as he spoke, hands coming together then separating, fingers splayed wide. He'd sometimes punctuate a sentence by reaching out to rap the other big dude, knuckles slapping the front of the other big dude's shoulder.
I told Gronk a friend of mine just opened a dog-walking business. He could contract out as a pooper scooper.
"No doubt! Get a long stick with a scooper on the end and a handle," Gronk said, acting out the whole scene. "I just hit the trigger and it scoops it up. Then I reach back and drop it in a big bag on my back. Put all the poop in there and empty it every once in a while! So many ideas!"
I told him I liked it. I told him I was happy for him and congratulated him again. I asked him if he wanted to co-host Quick Slants with me since Jerod Mayo was fleeing the program.
"Nahhh, I don't think I'll be able to do that," he said, letting me down easy.
I told him I appreciated it anyway.
I went back inside, leaving him and the other big dude to resume heckling Jim through the window while standing in the rain on a Sunday afternoon, the last day of March, one week into his retirement.
About 10 minutes later, I was back inside and the event was about to begin when another co-worker approached.
"Gronk's outside," she told me.
"I know," I said. "I already talked to him."
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