Today's Super Bowl in Indianapolis has a little bit more of a Southern Illinois flavor to it than usual.
Former SIU Saluki Brandon Jacobs will suit up for the New York Giants. But the biggest story of the week is certainly New England's Rob Gronkowski.
The 22-year-old tight end had one of the greatest seasons at his position in NFL history. Gronkowski caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and an NFL record 17 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound receiver suffered an ankle injury in the AFC Championship game and is working his way back to compete in the Super Bowl.
Gordie Gronkowski, Rob's older brother, played baseball for the Southern Illinois Miners last summer. After a long career in the minor leagues, he's just enjoying watching three of his brothers play in the NFL.
"All of us have a lot of fun, and we chat almost every single day or at least one of us does, which is incredible," Gordie Gronkowski said. "The relationship we all have with each other is great."
Rob Gronkowski enjoyed a good rookie season last year, but no one could've expected the incredible stats he delivered this season, except maybe his family members.
"To be honest, with the great team that he has around him and a great quarterback in Tom Brady, I could've seen him having a great year," Gordie Gronkowski said. "Maybe not breaking all the records that he did, but I definitely thought he would be a lot better than he was his first year."
It may seem hard to believe now, but Rob Gronkowski was almost a Southern Illinois Miner last sum-mer. With the NFL in the midst of a lockout, a contract offer was extended to Rob, and he wanted to play baseball with his brother.
"Rob is pretty much a superhero right now, but he hasn't changed one bit," Gordie Gronkowski said. "Two weeks before the NFL lockout ended, Robby was going to sign with the Southern Illinois Miners. All of the pitchers throw football patterns about four or five hours before the game. He had time on his hands and didn't really have a job, and he wanted to just stay in shape and have fun doing it at the same time."
Rob Gronkowski was also an outstanding baseball prospect, and he still loves the game. But it may not have been the right move because of his football contract with New England.
"He was supposed to go in the top 10 rounds of the baseball draft out of high school," Gordie Gron-kowski said. "Mike Pinto offered him a contract to come and play for the Miners and then Rob's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had an inside tip that the NFL lockout was going to be over within the next week. But it was probably a good thing that Rob didn't play baseball in case he got injured."
Although Rob Gronkowski won't be 100 percent, there's a pretty good chance he will play in the Super Bowl. The Gronkowski brothers have been tearing up Indianapolis in anticipation of their brother's big moment.
"Thinking about my brother, at 22 years old, with a Super Bowl ring is just crazy to imagine," Gordie Gronkowski said. "The Pats have developed a great thing with the team chemistry. People want to play for (Bill Belichick) because he wins. I really think they're going to take it to the Giants."