Gronk’s Lessons: Financial coaches count

By Allen Wastler
Allen Wastler is a former financial journalist with over 30-years of experience, including time at CNBC, CNN, and Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
Posted on Nov 10, 2017

You might not think things like a “viper route” in football and financial strategies like diversification have a lot in common, but if you listen to “Gronk,” they do.

Indeed, NFL Pro Bowler Rob Gronkowski believes football and finances both involve “knowing the playbook,” listening to your coaches, and having discipline. And, as he noted during an informal 2016 practice session with his family, talking with MassMutual, early moves in both are crucial. 

“You want to take that first step and shoot your hands right into his chest to have control,” he said while demonstrating a blocking technique off the line. “You want control. It’s just like financials. You want to make that first step in the financial process so you have control of everything that’s going on.”

That kind of control allows you to prepare for whatever the game — on the field or in life — throws at you. (Calculator: Setting financial goals)

And both have thrown a lot at Gronk. His time in professional football has been challenged by career-threatening injuries at various points. In fact, a back injury was a problem as far back as college.

Early preparation helped Gronkowski cope.

“Since I had such a high rating going into the year, and even though I was only a true junior, my dad wanted me to take out a disability insurance policy for $4 million, which was the maximum we could get,” Gronkowski wrote in his 2015 autobiography “It’s Good To Be Gronk.” “I knew better than to second-guess my dad when it came to business, so I took his advice and appreciated his buying that policy for me.” (Calculator: How Would a Disability Affect My Finances?)

Indeed, that policy, which provides a lump sum should a player become unable to continue in his sport – and is different from the disability income insurance policies MassMutual offers – gave Gronkowski the ability to focus on recovery in college with the knowledge that there was some financial protection in place.

Managing your finances is similar to football, he points out, where you need to have a plan that outlines a course of action depending on the situation: a playbook. That can include strategies that allow for adjustments based on changes in your life or in the market, much like a pass pattern.

“If it’s zone coverage and there’s two safeties deep — and you have a viper route — you run a post,” he explained. “If it’s zone coverage and you have one safety deep, you run a flag.”1

Key to developing such plans, whether for football or finances, are coaches and experts. Gronkowski makes it a point to note in discussion and in his autobiography that both have played big parts in his development as an athlete and in recovering from his injuries. On finances, he credits his father, who still coaches him on money matters today.

“When I brought my boys up, I taught them the value of a dollar,” said the senior Gronkowski, during the training session. “Rob is sitting good right now. He’s taken care of down the road. He’s got that part taken care of. Now he can get a little bit more riskier, I think. Now he’s going on offense a little.”

Or as Gronk, responding to his father’s words, puts it: “It’s going from a blocking tight end to a receiving tight end.”

“As of right now, offensively for my retirement, [the 401(k)] is huge. If you do it now, you can invest more and save more so when you’re retired, boom, you get the bang for your buck.” (Retirement Calculator

But he notes it’s self-discipline that puts the plans and coaching together into individual performance.

“I’ve been smart about it,” Gronk said. “It’s not like I’m buying Rolex watches or million-dollar cars.”

Gronkowski went through a careful plan of physical therapy and treatment to recover from his injuries. He uses the same approach with finances.

“I want to make sure that everything is taken care of and I’m not struggling and that I’m providing support for my family in the future,” he said.

All that, Gronk made clear in his discussion, is a consequence of creating a plan, taking good advice, and having discipline — be it football or finances.

“I spike the ball when I score a TD, and you can spike too, when you score financially,” he said, marching off the field.

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1 A post is a running pattern to the inside of the field, while a flag is a route to the sideline.

Mr. Gronkowski is a client of and has purchased a life insurance policy through the Buffalo Agency of MassMutual. He works with a number of financial and legal professionals from different firms and companies to form his financial team.

The views and opinions expressed by Mr. Gronkowski are his own and are for educational purposes only, to promote financial fitness.  They are not meant to be an endorsement of an individual financial professional or firm. Mr. Gronkowski was not compensated for his comments or participation in these videos.

MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. Local sales agencies are not subsidiaries of MassMutual and its affiliated companies.

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The information provided is not written or intended as specific tax or legal advice. MassMutual, its employees and representatives are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to seek advice from your own tax or legal counsel. Opinions expressed by those interviewed are their own, and do not necessarily represent the views of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.