Super Bowl LIII: Patriots’ Tom Brady to help Gronk ‘stiffen up’ in Super Bowl return

By Richard Allen, BBC Sport Trailing by two points in overtime to Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looked to a young centre who always lines up at right guard for inspiration….

Super Bowl LIII: Patriots' Tom Brady to help Gronk 'stiffen up' in Super Bowl return

By Richard Allen, BBC Sport

Trailing by two points in overtime to Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looked to a young centre who always lines up at right guard for inspiration.

Young backup David Andrews had gone to junior high school with tight end Rob Gronkowski, and he was prepared to send out a message to his presidentially-crowned team-mate.

“I always talk to Gronk in order to get his mindset,” the 24-year-old told the BBC.

“He’s my favourite player so I talk to him to try to keep him off his butt, because football is a sport of slights and those slights hurt.

“But he’s still one of my closest friends so I try to keep him off his butt. That’s my motivation to do this.”

Gronkowski played in overtime, and New England eventually overcame a 26-9 deficit in regulation to win 33-27 on the help of a Brandon Bolden field goal.

The Patriots will now take on Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl – the 18th New England team to play in the title game.

It will be just their second time since 2013 they will enter the final without their superstar quarterback.

Brady had missed the whole of the 2016 NFL season with a torn ACL and MCL, and Sunday’s game saw him join the ‘Brady Gang’ – two of his former Super Bowl-winning tight ends, Aaron Hernandez and David Young, the most significant addition being Gronkowski.

Brady’s five Super Bowl rings now total seven, only Michael Jordan (10) has more with the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.

But where does he rank among American sports legends?

‘Brady to Gronk for Super Bowl legacy’

Brady is currently the third best-paid player in the NFL. Only Los Angeles Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff and San Francisco 49ers’ kicker Robbie Gould earn more.

He signed a two-year extension worth a reported $28m (£22.5m) after the Super Bowl victory last February.

“We hear these numbers all the time and it doesn’t matter to us as players,” said Gronkowski, who also signed a new two-year contract.

“As long as it’s in the team’s best interest, I don’t care what it is. When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter, what he’s making. It’s just the same as what every other player would be making.”

Brady is also renowned for his devotion to the popular P90X workout machine, in particular the “Dancing with the Stars” method, which often involves cardio, recovery and stretching exercises which were heavily featured at the Patriots team hotel.

The club’s strength and conditioning specialist Alex Guerrero made headlines when photographs emerged of him talking football tactics with coach Bill Belichick.

And last season, Brady’s favourite tipple – Guinness – was banned from their hotel for health reasons.

“Guinness would be my first choice but [they don’t] serve it in the room so I’ll probably have a whiskey,” he joked.

“It will always be a part of my lifestyle but not as an elixir.

“Guinness is a drink people have enjoyed for hundreds of years and they are very good at producing it. They take really good pride in it, there’s a lot of pride in it.”

One player on both sides who is not currently into Guinness is Gronkowski, who has been the subject of a potential steroid ban after failing a pre-season drug test.

However, the tight end looks more focused than ever with two Super Bowl victories under his belt, and Brady’s desire to play until at least 40 appears to be a popular one.

“Gronk is a great player. I’m not a doctor but I just know what I know about the body and I know him as a person and I know his lifestyle and I think he’s fit to play,” said Andrews.

“You see him killing it and running the routes like it’s nothing.

“We say anytime we train it’s ‘we don’t need to do it until Tom comes.’

“When you’re super successful and you have success in life then people kind of overlook the small things you have to do to stay in it.

“That’s kind of what we’ve tried to teach him and, yes, I believe he is going to last for a long time.”

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