Rob Gronkowski wasn’t planning on watching the 2009 college football season from the sidelines. Coming off a year in which he earned third-team AP All-American and first-team All-Pac-10 honors, this was going to be his season.
But after having surgery to repair a lumbar herniated disc and nerve damage on Sept. 24, plans have changed.
Patience is the new game plan.
“I have received advice from players that have had the same surgery as me,” said Gronkowski. “They basically told me to stay patient and everything will go as planned and I’ll be back in no time.”
Rather than carving up defenses and scoring touchdowns, Gronkowski has found other ways of managing his time: resting.
“I rest a lot and walk a lot to help my healing," he said. "I am also focusing on academics more, and having some fun playing video games and watching movies.”
But it’s not all movies and video games. Gronkowski is also looking at ways to improve himself as a player. “With my time off to get better, I am studying film, watching other players play and getting tips from them and studying defenses,” he said.
All tools that will undoubtedly help him improve when he gets back on the playing field.
Little more than a month post-surgery, Gronkowski is still at least two months away from being healthy enough to run, but he’s enjoying the way the Wildcats are playing in his absence:
“My teammates are doing a great job without my presence out there. Many receivers have stepped it up and are making big plays along with QB Nick Foles,” he said.
From All-American to biggest fan in one season, there is no one more thrilled on Saturday for the Wildcats than Gronkowski. “Of course it’s hard for me to watch, but I am excited as can be for my teammates and hope for a win every game,” he said.
The Arizona Wildcats could even learn a thing or two from Gronkowski during their bye week. They should take a page out of his playbook and practice patience and rest.
Heading into the home stretch of the season, with games against Pac-10 powerhouses Oregon and USC still left on the schedule, there’s much to accomplish and prove.
As the season and rehabilitation continues for Gronkowski, words of encouragement are pouring in from teammates and coaches. He knows it’s just a matter of time before he’s back on the field.
“I need to be patient and everything will work out fine," he said.