"The hits he takes, the way his body contorts, I really respect him," he said of Gronkowski. "And catching 17 touchdown passes ... that's hard to even conceive. In 1986 I had four TD passes (with 66 catches and 1,001 yards receiving, the most ever for a Giants tight end), and I thought I was so productive. The most I ever had in one season was eight.
"In this system the tight ends are still blockers, physical guys who take punishment and catch passes. Both guys are a tribute to the position, and Belichick has always been a tight end guy, so you can't be surprised by what he's doing. He's never been afraid to buck trends or go against the grain.
"I think I would've loved to play in that system."
Praise for Big Blue
Bavaro, who was one of five players inducted into the Giants' "Ring of Honor" at halftime of a home game against Green Bay on Dec. 4, was contacted by the Giants a few days before their NFC Championship Game in San Francisco. They inquired if he'd like to fly out and be one of three honorary game captains (along with former Giants Michael Strahan and Rich Seubert).
Following the Giants' win, Bavaro was asked if he'd like to present the George Halas Trophy to the newly-crowned NFC Champions in the postgame locker room, which he accepted.
"They were all confident, relaxed and loose. They didn't view beating San Francisco as an upset," said Bavaro, whose son Lucas is a star outside linebacker and receiver at St. John's Prep and is drawing plenty of college attention.
While it was the first complete game he had watched them play in person this season, Bavaro has been well aware of the Giants' success. For instance, he has been to various functions commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Giants' 1986 Super Bowl champions.