The city of Buffalo has faced some dark times this season but having overcome Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s on-field cardiac arrest and deadly winter blizzards, Rob Gronkowski predicts a storybook ending for the franchise’s long-suffering fans.
The four-time Super Bowl champion and Buffalo native said the “brotherhood” of the NFL has been on full display this week, with teams honoring Hamlin and fans praying outside the Cincinnati hospital where the 24-year-old was being treated.
“It was unreal how everyone came together,” Gronkowski told Reuters while promoting his Gronk Beach music festival, which will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona the day before the Feb. 12 Super Bowl in Glendale.
“It was a great situation where everyone joined as one, brought the love, brought the prayers and sent all that love and humanity to Damar,” he said, noting that more than $8.6 million has been donated to Hamlin’s toy drive fundraiser.
Eight days ago Hamlin had his heartbeat restored on the field as players cried, prayed and hugged and millions of television viewers looked on in horror.
Thanks to the quick actions of the Bills medical staff and the care of doctors at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Hamlin has made a remarkable recovery and was released from the hospital and returned to Buffalo on Monday. read more
“To see how much better he is doing is just amazing,” Gronkowski said.
“And to see the love he is putting back out there is just spectacular. So I’m just hoping and praying that he returns to full health and he can live a healthy life. Sending love and prayers to him and his family.”
Hamlin’s brush with death comes after the fiercest blizzard in 45 years struck western New York over Christmas weekend, claiming at least 38 lives in Buffalo. read more
A mid-November snowstorm forced the Bills to move a home game to Detroit and Gronkowski said the response from fans showed the true character of his fellow Buffalonians.
“Going over to the players houses, shoveling them out, plowing the snow in the blizzard so the players could get to the airport to fly out to the game just shows that Buffalo sticks together,” he said.
“They’re blue collar people and they love their Buffalo Bills, no doubt about that.”
Gronkowski, 33, retired after nine seasons and three championships with the New England Patriots only to return to rejoin quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa, where the duo won another title at the end of the 2020 season.
He said he had originally envisioned playing for the Bills and was sorely disappointed when the front office at the time passed on him twice, leading to a “love-hate” relationship with the franchise that he says is now “all love.”
Would he consider coming back again to suit up for the Bills or another team?
“Right now there’s no consideration at all for anything like that,” he said.
As for the Feb. 12 Super Bowl itself, he sees the red-hot San Francisco 49ers and their ruthless defense squaring off against his hometown Bills, who lost four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990 to 1993.
“And I’m going to have to say that the Bills are finally going to win a Super Bowl,” he said.