Phoenix: Don`t let the party bus fool you, New England`s Rob Gronkowski takes his role as one of the NFL`s premier tight ends seriously.
And you can be sure, the Seattle Seahawks will be taking him seriously, too, when they line up against him on Sunday in Super Bowl 49.
Big, powerful yet deceptively elusive, Gronkowski has bounced back from injury to become a key target for quarterback Tom Brady, and a man Seahawks defenders know they`ll have to stop.
"That`s their playmaker," Seattle safety Kam Chancellor said of Gronkowski, who had 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns in his most productive season since 2011. "That`s their go-to guy."
His performance is a testament to his determination, since he`s rehabbed injuries in each of the past three seasons, including a slow return from the knee injury that halted his 2013 campaign.
"I definitely don`t take the game for granted anymore," Gronkowski said. "It`s an honor to be out there on the field with my teammates and all.
"Throughout the whole year, especially this time of the year, going to the Super Bowl, being out on the practice field, helping my team do its job and just going out and practising hard. I`m super excited for this game Sunday."
But unlike many of his colleagues, Gronkowski seems excited by the whole Super Bowl package.
He`s happy to hold court for the media, just as he`s happy to take the ribbing that ensues in the locker room after high profile photo shoots -- whether they include cuddly kittens or more racy shots involving a strategically placed smiley face.
"There have definitely been some blown-up shots posted in the locker room -- posted in his locker -- of him, usually not with many clothes on," Patriots running back Shane Vereen said. "It`s all good fun and he takes it and he loves it and it`s cool."
Gronkowski thinks some fans fascinated by his extracurricular activities lose sight of his dedication.
"People kind of underestimate the hard work and dedication that goes into the week to get prepared for the games on Sunday."
But with that hard work paying off, and the party bus always parked just around the corner, even the Patriots` billionaire owner Robert Kraft has a feeling it`s good to be Gronk.
"In our next life a lot of people might want to be Gronk," Kraft said. "because he never has a bad day."