Gronkowskis Galore on NFL Opening Day

For the first time in almost 20 years, three brothers will take the field simultaneously as the NFL opens its 2011 season on Sunday.

The brothers Gronkowski: Rob, Dan, and Chris, each got the news that they made the final 53-man roster for their prospective teams late Saturday.

Rob (TE, Arizona), a second round draft pick of the New England Patriots, was virtually guaranteed his spot on the team after a tremendous preseason. He scored four touchdowns for the Pats in exposition play including a spectacular, highlight reel TD that featured Rob dragging a 250lb linebacker 5 yards while hopping on one leg and diving for the score

Chris (FB, Arizona) and Dan (TE, Maryland) were less certain of their fates right down to the wire.

“All you can do is work as hard as you possibly can to put yourself in the position to be successful and fortunately it paid off,” Chris, an un-drafted rookie free agent said after learning that he made the Dallas Cowboys as a back-up fullback. Chris’ versatility and strong special teams play helped his case. The Cowboys ultimately elected to keep only two Tight Ends and plan to use Chris as the third TE when needed.

Dan, the oldest of the three, was the last in the family to learn he had earned a job in the NFL this fall. He started the preseason with the Detroit Lions, who took him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft. The Lions, however, opened camp packed with quality Tight Ends including first round draft choice Brandon Petigrew and veterans Tony Schifler and Will Heller. That left Dan as the odd man out despite competing hard for the position.

“The way I played this preseason, I had really good film; I knew I’d be playing somewhere,” Dan said. That somewhere ended up being the Denver Broncos, who traded Cornerback Alphonso Smith to the Lions for Gronkowski to insure that no other team would pick him up off the waiver wire, had the Lions elected to send him to their practice squad.

Three brothers making the NFL from one household is not as shocking as it might seem once you meet the entire Gronkowski family. Hailing from the Buffalo, NY suburb of Amherst, Dan, Chris, and Rob are the middle three of five boys in the Gronkowski clan.

The oldest brother, Gordie Jr, a Jacksonville University baseball star and former Anaheim Angels draftee, finished this season batting .319 with 16 homers and 50 RBIs in 46 games as a First Basemen for the Gateway Grizzlies in the Independent League.

The youngest brother, Glenn is a Senior at Williamsville North High school. He is arguably the best athlete of them all, excelling at both football and baseball. He finished last year’s baseball season batting over .600.

The patriarch, Gordy Sr, is a former Offensive Lineman from Syracuse who owns one of the nation’s largest chains of retail fitness stores, G&G Fitness Equipment. “I’m so proud of all of them, they each overcame their own challenges throughout their careers and never quit,” Gordy Sr said. “My weekend travel schedule for the next few months is going to be crazy,” he added.

Only six times in modern NFL history (since the NFL merged with the AFL in 1970) have three brothers taken the field at the same time in the same year and only one other time did they all play on the offensive side of the ball.