THE FOLLOWING is a reenactment of real events. The names have not been changed because, well, this column is about these very people:
A long time ago in western New York, Diane and Gordon Gronkowski were building a family. When they got pregnant, Diane asked her husband, "Do you want a boy or a girl?" "I want a tight end," Gordon answered. And on Jan. 21, 1985, Dan was born.
A while after, they again got pregnant. Diane again asked Gordon, "Do you want a boy or a girl?" "I want a fullback," he answered. And on Dec. 26, 1986, Chris was born.
A few years later, they again got pregnant. "Do you want a boy or a girl?" she again asked. "I want another tight end," he answered. And on May 14, 1989, Rob was born.
Meet the Gronkowskis.
Dan Gronkowski is a 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end with the Denver Broncos.
Chris Gronkowski is a 6-2, 245-pound fullback with the Dallas Cowboys.
Rob Gronkowski is a 6-6, 264-pound tight end with the New England Patriots.
Three brothers, all in the NFL at the same time, providing a nation in need with its greatest multiple-sibling dominance since Alec, Daniel, William and Stephen Baldwin were Hollywood near-heavyweights in the 1990s.
More than 300 sets of brothers have played pro football, but the Gronkowskis mark the first time three siblings have been in the NFL simultaneously since Brian, Gary and Rich Baldinger overlapped from 1986 to 19'92. Brother acts go back to the earliest days of pro football - Red Grange played with his brother Garland on the 1929-31 Chicago Bears, and before that Jim Thorpe played with brother Jack on the 1921 Oorang Indians.
(Footnote I: The Oorang franchise was nicknamed the Indians because the team was comprised entirely of American Indians, as opposed to the current Washington NFL franchise, which has nothing to do with Indians and uses a term - Redskins - that is offensive to many Native Americans.)
But the mother of all sibling acts in pro football was the Nesser Brothers. In 1921, the Columbus Panhandles had five, maybe six, Nesser brothers on the roster.* There was Ted, Phil, John, Fred, Frank and perhaps Al Nesser, plus Ted's son Charlie.
* The precise number of brothers is unclear, due to conflicting historical accounts. To pin it down, I'd suggest checking with Peter King of NBC and Sports Illustrated; whatever number he gives you, just add or subtract two and you'll probably have a ballpark figure. Oh, and if he mentions Brett Favre is retiring, I'd just walk away.
(Footnote II: Ted Nesser was player-coach, so there was a teensy-weensy degree of nepotism at work here. And, to be honest, brotherly love might've turned to brotherly bickering when the 1921 Panhandles stumbled to a 1-8 record.)
The Gronkowskis - whose father was an offensive guard at Syracuse and whose older brother Gordie Jr. played baseball at Jacksonville University - all attended Williamsville (N.Y.) North High School. Dan went to Maryland, Chris went to Maryland but transferred to Arizona and Rob went to Arizona.
Dan was the next-to-last player picked in the 2009 NFL draft, by the Detroit Lions, and was traded to the Broncos this year. He has four career catches for 17 yards.