Exclusive Interview: Rob Gronkowski Scores A New Career In The CBD Industry
Rob Gronkowski (a.k.a. Gronk) is, arguably, one of the best tight ends in NFL history, winning three Super Bowls in just nine seasons with the New England Patriots. But in 2018, the future Hall of Famer shocked the sports world by retiring at the ripe old age of 30. After pushing his body to its limit and suffering major injuries and numerous concussions, Gronk was conked.
Now the football giant has a new passion that he says helps both his body and his mind recover from the massive beating he took during his career, and scratched his itch to become an entrepreneur. Last year, Gronk announced that he was a major investor and spokesperson for CBDMedic, a brand that makes topical solutions like ointments, creams, and sprays to cater to chronic injuries and pain.
Like other celebrities we’ve seen in this CBD boom, Gronkowski joins a number of high-profile athletes who have entered the industry, including Boston Celtics great Paul Pierce, USWNT star Megan Rapinoe, and former Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams.
To get a better idea about what Gronk’s new role as an entrepreneur is like, we tackled numerous topics with him— his experience using CBD, why he got into the space, and how he would pitch the benefits of CBD to his old Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick.
An edited version of the podcast follows.
When was the first time you tried CBD?
July 4th weekend of 2019. I stubbed my three toes playing barefoot soccer. I went for a kick and smashed my toes off my friend’s ankle, and they immediately turned black and blue. I couldn’t put my shoe on. I mean, I could, but it was very painful. My dad said, “Here, try this product.” It was CBDMedic Active Sport Stick, and it had given him relief for his lower-back arthritis.
So I put it on and, within 10 minutes, I got such relief. I could walk normally. I could put my shoes on and go throughout the day without that pain I was having from my three stubbed toes. I was blown away by how well the product worked, and I reached out to discuss a partnership. [CBDMedic CEO] Perry Antelman’s house happens to be seven miles away from my home, so we began meeting, and I was so excited about the product and the potential to create even more pain relief solutions that I became a brand spokesperson and an investor.
Why did you go from being a CBD consumer to a CBD entrepreneur?
First off, now that I stopped playing football, I wanted to get into business. This was one opportunity that just came naturally, and it fit my lifestyle. Everything I do is based around fitness and being active, around recovery, and around being competitive. Yes, I was looking for a new business opportunity, but I was also looking for an opportunity that fit me. I wanted to produce a product to help others. I chose CBDMedic because I love the culture of the company. Perry is just a great guy, an energetic guy. I love spending time with him, love his passion, and love that the products were all-natural solutions that benefited me tremendously.
What do you like about being an entrepreneur?
I just love going to the offices, hanging out, talking to people, talking products, talking experiences, talking business. I love going on trips. We were just on a business trip to Israel. We learned so much about CBD on that trip.
So what exactly is your role with CBDMedic?
Being the face of the brand. I’m an investor of the company, too, because I truly believe in it that much. I didn’t just want to be the face of something. I also wanted to invest into it, to put all my marbles into it, and that’s what I’m doing.  On top of it, man, whatever the company asks me to do. That’s what I learned throughout my days with the New England Patriots; whatever the team, whatever the coach was asking me to do, I had to do it.
Whatever I can do to help out the whole team overall—whether that’s going to visit suppliers in different parts of the world, if it’s going to Israel with the team to meet everyone and shake hands and take pictures with them and get to know them, I’m going to go do that. If it’s going to facilities and testing all the products, I’m going to go do that, too. I want to put out the best products.
You’ve got to work together as a team in order to accomplish a goal, and that’s what I want to bring into the entrepreneur world and to the business world. Everyone has to come together, put your egos aside, come together and do what’s best for the company. Do what’s best to put the best product out there, and not put yourself first. It’s putting the team first, putting the products first, so you can put the best products out there. It’s like winning the game. When you get the best products out there and you come together as a team in the business world, it’s like coming together as a team in the football world and winning the game.
What’s the first product you’re releasing, and why?
I’ll be having an ingestibles line dropping in 2020. We’re not hustling with it. We’re taking our time because we want to put the best products, the best packaging out there with my name on it. It’s going to be representing my brand, so we want to put the best organic, natural, healing products you can have.
What are the biggest challenges you’re seeing as part of a CBD business?
Not everyone is educated about CBD. So just bringing awareness to what CBD is and what it does for the body, to what CBDMedic is—that is the biggest challenge.
Some people just assume that there’s THC in our products and that they get you high—even my friends, family members, and friends of friends. The challenge is educating people that CBD is nonpsychoactive. It’s from the hemp plant, and it does not get you high. You will not fail a drug test if you use it. CBD benefits you. It calms down the nervous system, and it helps relieve stress and pain.
What’s the worst injury you sustained while playing in the NFL, and how do you think CBD could have helped had it been allowed by the league?
I would say that, basically, all the injuries to my body could definitely have used CBD. But the ones that stand out are the contusions to the muscle tissue. Those are achy and are not pleasant. If I had the option during my career to just grab a CBD topical cream and rub it on throughout the week, that would’ve made a tremendous difference. It would’ve helped promote the healing. You’ve still got to do the exercises that help heal the body, too. But [using CBD] could’ve given me that relief I would have wanted. With all the hits to my muscle tissue, it would’ve been a huge help, big-time.
Do you think CBD will become a legal substance in the NFL? If so, what will make it work?
During the NFL days, I really didn’t know about CBD. I learned about CBD after I retired. But I do not see any reason why CBD won’t be legal. I think all sports leagues will, eventually, lift the ban of CBD once there’s more education, and once there’s more research and development. Once everyone gets educated about it, I believe CBD will be rolling just like it should be.
How would you explain the benefits of CBD to your former head coach, Bill Belichick?
I would tell him that it’s going to clear his mind to make even better football quality decisions. The guy already makes the best decisions in football, but I’d tell him that CBD is going to help the decisions he makes, and explain how it can give him more confidence when he has it because his mind will be so clear after he tries some.
Bill is going to try my line. I’m going to have to give him some. You’re going to see me holding a tincture over his mouth, giving him some CBD one day. If that ever happens, man, that would be legendary.