Being a rookie in the NFL is much like riding a roller coaster at an amusement park. Waiting in line for your turn to ride, pretty much equals waiting anxiously for your name to be called on draft day. You have seen the ride on television much like a college player sees the pro games and can’t wait to experience the thrill for himself.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Baltimore Ravens rookie center/guard Gino Gradkowski and was curious to hear his thoughts on getting to a Super Bowl in his rookie year. Gradkowski played in all 16 regular season games and all three postseason games and is headed to New Orleans for the ultimate thrill ride.
When asked about his trip to the Super Bowl Gradkowski stated, “It’s amazing. To experience this my rookie year is just incredible and I’m so happy I’m a part of this team.”
For those not familiar with Gino, he comes from a football family; in fact, his brother Bruce is a quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals. Gino says his family will be in attendance at the Super Bowl.
“Absolutely,” he said. “They’re all fired up. We’re making plans now to get them all down there.”
Gino grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended the University of Deleware. The Baltimore Ravens selected Gradkowski in the 4th round (98th overall) of the 2012 draft.
Each year, the league holds an orientation to life in the NFL seminar, that includes direction on social responsibility, professional development, community engagement, league policies, workplace conduct, and media relations. In addition, it offers educational life-skills workshops on topics ranging from substance abuse, sex education, domestic violence, DUI, gambling, personal finance, associations, and family issues. These sessions help young players to recognize the off-the-field challenges that life as a professional football player may bring while also teaching them how to handle these challenges successfully.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” aknowledged Gradkowski when questioned about growing up watching Super Bowls and thinking what it must feel like to play in them.
I can’t even begin to imagine the feeling or sensation one must have to be able to live out a childhood fantasy such as playing in the Super Bowl. I spent countless hours in my own backyard playing football with my brother and friends pretending to be the quarterback in the big game.
Congratulations to Gino for living out his dream and for what I hope is just one of many trips to the Super Bowl for such a humble and talented player.