By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- If we are being honest, folks, this year's Super Bowl week stinks. Zoom calls, long pauses before questions, players sitting alone in empty rooms with ring lights and webcams. It's just ... stale and boring, especially when compared to the mayhem and fun that normally accompanies the big "Media Night" spectacle every year.
Obviously, that's nobody's fault. The NFL is doing what it can to finish off a season during a pandemic, something many of us never thought to be even remotely possible last summer. It's been remarkable that we're even here, so there's no room for complaining.
And thankfully, despite the sterile environment in which these media sessions are taking place, an old reliable in Rob Gronkowski was able to add a little life to the festivities, such as they are.
"Oh, man. Oh, I tricked him! I tricked him a few times," a beaming Gronkowski said when asked about his offseason workouts for Buccaneers strength and conditioning coach Anthony Pirolo, before players were allowed to gather for practices together.
The Bucs' program required players to send in videos of their workouts throughout each week. Gronkowski, who was in the midst of coming out of retirement, didn't exactly feel like following the plan to a tee.
"It was fun for like the first week, filming yourself, sending the video in, making yourself look good," Gronkowski explained. "And then after like a week it was like, aw man, I just wish we were in person because every time I had to film myself and send it in in order to get credit for the workout and stuff. So like, that was kind of getting a little annoying."
So Gronkowski hatched a plan. Instead of filming different videos each day, he'd just change his shirt in between video recordings on the same day and send them along as if they took place on different days.
"I would film myself like 15 times for that session, that workout session. But I would run it in a couple different shirts," Gronkowski said. "Because you only had to send in like two or three reps. So then when the next time came, I didn't have to film myself, because I already filmed myself running in a different shirt every time on that one day."
Normally, a player wouldn't admit such a thing. But Rob Gronkowski is Rob Gronkowski. So he laughed at his own evil genius.
"[Piroli] hasn't had a clue to this day that I was tricking him about half the time during those virtual workouts," Gronkowski said.
No, it's not the normal level of high jinks or tomfoolery that typically takes place the Monday before the Super Bowl. And yes, the conclusion of this story left Gronkowski sitting in silence, with no faces to see on the screen in front of him except for his own.
Gronkowski typically plays off the people around him a little bit more in such scenarios.
This video chat was not exactly a real human interaction. But then again, the interactions on Media Day generally aren't "human" either, as it's more of a gussied up TV show than anything else. And in that sense, Gronkowski delivered at least one memorable moment from a "Media Day" that desperately needed it.
You can find Michael Hurley on Twitter @michaelFhurley.
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