Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO -- Wings and smashing tables. That's what Buffalo does. Among other things. And Rob Gronkowski embraces both with open arms. 

The Patriots tight end is always happy to make his way back to Western New York to play the Bills near where he grew up in Amherst, New York. He averages about six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown every time he sets foot inside Ralph Wilson Stadium.

And he understands exactly what happens outside the stadium before every game.

"Not at a tailgate," Gronkowski said when asked if he'd ever busted a table. "But I've been through tables before. For sure. Family get-togethers. I've definitely been growing up [going] through tables."

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"Bills Mafia" makes it a difficult place to play, Patriots players have insisted this week. Their record in Orchard Park under Belichick (15-2 since 2000) would suggest otherwise. But Gronkowski said the mayhem that occurs at the tailgates carries over into the stadium and makes communication difficult.

"I love the atmosphere," Gronkowski said. "It's a football atmosphere no doubt. It's loud. Third down you can barely be able to hear Tom [Brady] if he's not in a silent cadence, but it's just a good atmosphere. It's a good football atmosphere.

"They are wild for sure. I grew up there. That could explain myself a little bit in my early 20s, if that makes sense. I think it does. They're wild man, I love it though. I love that wildness. That's where I grew up in . . . They're super loud, super proud of their team."

 

Gronkowski said there was even a point in time when they cheered for him -- well before his Patriots career.

"I did Punt, Pass and Kick once," said Gronkowski. "That was my best memory. They were actually playing New England that game . . . I made it to the final round of the region and we threw the football at halftime on the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium. I didn't win that round, but I made it to that final. I threw it pretty far as a kid, and I got some roars from the crowd so I knew they liked me at one point."

They won't be supporting him en masse this weekend, but he said he'll still be eating their wings after the game. Anchor Bar or Duff's. Doesn't matter, he said. Just give him some blue cheese.

"To tell you the truth, everyone always asks, 'Where do you go for wings? What do you do for wings. What's the spot?' That's like the touristy spots, Duff's and Anchor Bar," Gronkowski said. "I've been to Anchor Bar before. I swore I've never been to Duff's before but I hear about it every day. I drive by it every day. I just never been there. I don't know why, but I definitely gotta try it out one time or many times in the future."

"But you can go anywhere for wings there. I usually go to Amherst Ale House. That's right down the street where I grew up. You can go anywhere, but what's key is having that blue cheese. Buffalo blue cheese. Rudy's Blue Vheese. You gotta have that or else you don't have wings."

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