CBD Paves Way to Super Bowl: The Secret to Gronk's Glorious Return

CBD Paves Way to Super Bowl: The Secret to Gronk's Glorious Return

Posted by Lily Kiepke on Feb 15th 2021

In 2019, Rob Gronkowski sent shockwaves through the NFL when he announced his retirement at just 29 years old.

When the star still hadn’t returned a season later, fans began to believe his departure from the league was final.

But his career was far from over.

The Buccaneers win on Super Bowl Sunday was undoubtedly due to the tight end affectionately known as “Gronk.”

Scoring two touchdowns, Gronk secured the win and solidified his place in football history. And he may have CBD to thank for his return…

See how CBD paved the way to the Super Bowl, how CBD may shape the future of sports and pain management, and how you can take CBD like one of the pros.

An Impressive Career...

The 6’ 6” 268 lb tight end has already led an impressive career since being drafted in 2010 with the New England Patriots, where he would go on to play 9 seasons and bring home 3 Super Bowl wins alongside quarterback and close friend Tom Brady.

The dynamic duo reunited this year when Gronk announced his return to the NFL with Tampa Bay, paving the way to a Super Bowl LV win for the Buccaneers.

Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht describes the bond between Brady and Gronk and the secrets behind their success in a press release announcing Gronk’s acquisition in April 2020:

“Rob has played his entire career alongside Tom Brady and their accomplishments speak for themselves. Together they have developed the type of chemistry on and off the field that is crucial to success.

Rob combines elite-level skills as both a receiver and blocker but what really makes him special is the fact that he’s a proven winner who brings that championship mindset and work ethic.

Here’s a look at just a few of Gronk’s historic statistics outlined in the press release:

  • 4 Super Bowl Wins (3 with the Patriots, and now Super Bowl LV with the Buccaneers where he scored 2 touchdowns)
  • 5-time Pro Bowler
  • 4-time First-Team All-Pro selection
  • Receiving touchdowns total rivals Antonio Gates and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez
  • 2nd in touchdowns AND passing yards for a quarterback/tight end duo
  • Described as “one of the best tight ends in NFL history” by Licht

...Full of Injuries

Gronk’s success was not without several injuries over the years, many of which resulted in surgeries and missed games for the star. Take a look at some of the hits he took over the years as of 2019, via Sports Illustrated:

  • 2009: Back Vertebral Disc Hernia (missed entire season)
  • 2012: High ankle sprain (arthroscopic surgery) , Inguinal hip pull, Arm forearm fracture (missed 5 games)
  • 2013: Re-fractured forearm (resulting in 3 more surgeries) , Back vertebral fracture (+ surgery), Grade 1 Concussion, Grade 3 Torn ACL, Grade 3 Torn MCL
  • 2015: Grade 1 Knee Strain (missed 1 game)
  • 2016: Grade 1 Hamstring Pull, Chest Lung Bruise, Back Vertebral Disc Hernia (missed preseason, 5 final season games and playoffs, underwent back surgery)
  • 2017: Leg Thigh Bruise (missed 1 game)
  • 2018: Grade 1 Concussion, Back/ankle issues (missed 3 games)

According to the Boston Herald, “the toll the game was taking on his body was what led him to step away from the NFL.”

Later on, Gronk reflects on how CBD “would have made a huge difference” in terms of pain management for him if he was able to use the powerful cannabinoid during the season, notes Sportscasting.

“I’m not saying [CBD] would help me make like five more spectacular one-handed catches, but it could have helped me out big time with some of the hits you take,” reveals Gronk, as quoted by local news site Boston.com.

A Bit of Fatherly Advice

It was actually Gronk’s father, Gordon “Gordy” Gronkowski who pointed Gronk in the direction of CBD as a tool for pain management.

After nasty colliding kick during a barefoot soccer match between friends and longtime girlfriend Camille Kostek, Gronk was left with badly bruised, black and blue toes.

That’s when Gordy, a former college football player himself who uses CBD to manage his chronic back pain, gave Gronk a bit of fatherly advice.

“My dad was like, ‘Hey Rob, try this cream out. Use this cream I’ve been using for my back pain.’ So I put it on my toes and instantly I got the relief that I was looking for,” recalls Gronk during a  podcast interview with ESPN’s Adam Schefter

After applying the topical CBD cream to his toes, Gronk was even able to return to the field and finish out the soccer game.

“I knew right then and there, I was like, ‘Dang, this stuff works.’ [And] I was looking for something like that to help me relieve the pain that I’m in from doing activities and sports,” reveals Gronk in an interview with CNBC.

A Call for Change in the League

The league’s stance on CBD was a point of contention for Gronk’s return.

“I don’t want to be banned from playing the sport I love because I’m using a product that anyone can buy right off the shelf at their local pharmacy. I’m not really sure why it’s banned,” expressed Gronkowski in a press conference in October 2019.

Pain is a big problem in the league due to the intensity and physical nature of the sport. And according to Gronk, CBD may be able to help with “the pain that you just deal with week in and week out” as a professional football player, quotes Boston.com.

Here’s what Gronk had to say about the benefits of CBD in a press conference, per the Boston Herald

“There were many times where you’re just sitting in meetings and you’re in agony, and you can’t really be focused because you’re in pain. I’m not saying you put this on and you’re going to be healed, that it’s a miracle. But you can apply this and it’ll help manage the pain, and then you can get treatment and it’ll be a lot less stressful to the body .”

As more research comes to light and public opinion has begun to shift, so has the acceptance of CBD in sports.

In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) revised its guidelines to allow for the use of cannabidiol (CBD). WADA is also responsible for the World Anti-Doping Code, which is used by the International Olympic Committee, US Anti-Doping Agency, and more than 660 sports organizations.  However, in their guidelines WADA warns players about THC contamination possible in CBD products that are not third-party tested.

A year later, the NFL created a Pain Management Committee to assess the possibility of allowing CBD use for pain management. As of March 2020, cannabis testing has become more lenient and players who test positive will no longer be suspended.

“This is excellent news for CBD and football. As long as the product in question adheres to the 0.3% THC or lower guideline, the chances of testing positive for marijuana [are] almost zero [...] As a result, we expect the number of football players who use CBD oil to multiply significantly, ” claims American Football International.

A Possible Solution to the League’s Painkiller Problem

It’s no secret there’s an opioid and painkiller problem in the NFL. The “sheer scale of painkiller addiction amongst past and current players” was likely the reasoning behind the NFL’s exploration of new pain management options, reports American Football International.

A 2020 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine aimed to uncover how opioid use during player’s NFL careers has affected them in retirement. 336 former NFL players reported the following reasons for taking prescription opioids during their playing careers:

  • pain management
  • use “to function”
  • to improve mood
  • to reduce stress
  • to aid sleep

And they found the following to be true of players who used opioids during their NFL career:

  • 26.2% reported recent use of prescription opioids (past 30 days)
  • 11.9% reported misuse (not prescribed or use other than as prescribed)
  • Players using opioids to reduce stress and anxiety were more likely to misuse them
  • Elite athletes are “at high risk for pain and prescription opioid use and misuse”

Given the lasting impact and frequency of opioid use in the league, it’s worth examining how easily these opioids can be attained by players, and if there is a safer solution.

While more research is needed, CBD has shown promising results for many of the reasons players listed for opioid use, such as pain management, stress reliefbetter sleep,  and even addiction management.

How to Take CBD Like a Pro Athlete

Taking CBD like a pro athlete is easier than you think with the right products.

Topicals are the preferred CBD product by most pro athletes to treat localized pain. Topical products (like lotions, ointments, and even bath products ) are applied directly to the skin to provide targeted relief.

This way, the CBD gains quick access to your body through the high concentration of cannabinoid receptorsin your skin. CBD bonds to these receptors to influence your endocannabinoid system (ECS) to affect functions like pain sensation, stress response, and mood.

Applying a CBD lotion or ointment is easy: simply massage a small amount onto any problem areas on your body, allowing the CBD to soak in and reapplying as necessary. For topical products, you can expect to feel effects within 1-2 hours.

Additionally, our CBD ointments are sweat and water resistant, so they’ll stay put to give you relief during whatever your day entails.

So next time you hit the gym, skip the soreness  and get back in the game like a pro with CBD topicals .

All PHD Organics CBD products are third-party tested to ensure they are safe and effective. View our Topical testing results here.


American Football International. (2020, September 01). The NFL is Exploring CBD as a Potential aid for players. Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.americanfootballinternational.com/the-nfl-is-exploring-cbd-as-a-potential-aid-for-players/

Buccaneers. (2020, April 21). BUCCANEERS acquire Four-time ALL-PRO ROB GRONKOWSKI. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.buccaneers.com/news/buccaneers-acquire-four-time-all-pro-rob-gronkowski

DeCosta-Klipa, N. (2019, September 03). Rob Gronkowski says he first used CBD after getting hurt playing soccer against his girlfriend. Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.boston.com/sports/new-england-patriots/2019/09/03/rob-gronkowski-cbd-soccer-injury

Dunne, E. M., Striley, C. W., Mannes, Z. L., Asken, B. M., Ennis (formerly Whitehead), N., & Cottler, L. B. (2018). Reasons for prescription opioid use while playing in the National Football league as risk factors for current use and misuse among former players. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, Publish Ahead of Print. doi:10.1097/jsm.0000000000000628, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29933284/

Geller, S. (2019, October 25). Rob Gronkowski calls on NFL to ALLOW CBD so he has option to return. Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.bostonherald.com/2019/10/25/rob-gronkowski-calls-on-nfl-to-allow-cbd-so-he-has-option-to-return/

Huddleston, T., Jr. (2019, September 02). Ex NFL Star Rob Gronkowski On CBD, his biggest money splurge and Mark Cuban. Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/02/rob-gronkowski-on-cbd-his-biggest-money-splurge-and-mark-cuban.html

Jenkins, S. (2020, May 22). CBD has Helped Rob Gronkowski play football again - Sportscasting: Pure sports. Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.sportscasting.com/cbd-has-helped-rob-gronkowski-play-football-again/

Jones, K. (2019, February 03). A complete look at Gronk's injury history. Retrieved February 11, 2021, from https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/02/03/rob-gronkowski-injury-history-patriots-complete-list-patriots

Rob Gronkowski, Steve Levy, Kevin O'Connell [Radio series episode]. (2019, September 1). In The Adam Schefter Podcast. Bristol, Connecticut: ESPN Radio, from https://www.espn.com/radio/play/_/id/27518833

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). (2018, September 05). Cannabinoid. Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.wada-ama.org/en/questions-answers/cannabinoid