FOXBORO (CBS) – Rob Gronkowski is a superstar on the football field. But Tuesday night he was recognized for his work away from the field.
Gronkowski was presented with this year’s Ron Burton Community Service Award during the annual Patriots Premiere event at Gillette Stadium.
“Who would have ever thought that five years ago, when I was on ESPN every weekend drunk, that I would be accepting this award,” Gronkowski joked at the podium.
“This is super cool and super unique,” he said of the award. “It’s an honor and a blessing. It keeps me motivated to keep giving back, because that will last forever.”
The award is named after the late Ron Burton, father of WBZ-TV sports anchor Steve Burton and reporter Paul Burton.
Ron was the first player drafted by the Patriots and was a community leader revered for his charitable work.
“To be in that category of giving back to the community is just an unbelievable recognition,” Gronkowski said while praising his teammates who have previously won the award.
Nate Solder won the award in 2015, joining past recipients Devin McCourty (2014), Matthew Slater (2013), Zoltan Mesko (2012), Jerod Mayo (2011), Vince Wilfork (2010), Kevin Faulk (2009), Larry Izzo (2008), Ty Warren (2007), Jarvis Green (2006), Matt Light (2005), Troy Brown (2004) and Joe Andruzzi (2003).
“Rob is just as fun to watch at a community event as he is on the game field,” said Patriots owner Robert Kraft. “Giving back to the community is a big part of being ‘Gronk.’ He is engaging with fans of all ages. His gregarious personality makes him one of our greatest ambassadors, especially when spreading cheer to children at local hospitals or schools. We love the devotion and enthusiasm that he shows in the community and are proud to present him with this year’s Ron Burton Community Service Award.”