FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was named the team's Ron Burton Community Service Award winner Tuesday night at the club's annual Charitable Foundation kickoff event.
"Who would have ever thought five years ago, when I was on ESPN every weekend drunk, that I would be accepting this award?" Gronkowski said to the crowd, drawing laughter.
Gronkowski is entering his seventh NFL season, all with the Patriots, and is the 14th player to earn the honor.
"Rob is just as fun to watch at a community event as he is on the game field. Giving back to the community is a big part of being Gronk," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "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."
Although Gronkowski has made headlines for partying, including his boat cruise earlier this year, the time he spends in the community is notable.
"If I call him to do something, he'll do it for me," Donna Spigarolo, the team's director of community relations, said in a Nov. 5 ESPN.com story on Gronkowski's charitable work. "His enthusiasm is contagious, no matter where he goes, and he always brings a smile to the room. It's a joy to work with him."