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October 11, 2018 12:32 AM

Rob Gronkowski is back on the football field — and reunited once again with teammate Tom Brady.

“It’s just unbelievable, his work ethic. Just in and out, the competitiveness he brings every single day, even with so many years in the NFL. It’s just inspiring,” Gronkowski tells PEOPLE in a new interview while promoting his partnership with Honey Nut Cheerios’ Good Rewards Program.

Continues the two-time Super Bowl champion tight end for the New England Patriots, “That’s a guy that you want to look up to, you want to learn from, so you can keep on building up your chemistry and you can be the best possible player too, like him.”

Gronkowski’s happiness to be playing with Brady follows some upheaval for the athlete after the Patriots lost the 2018 Super Bowl to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this year. While it was expected the team would make roster changes for the then-upcoming season, Gronkowski found himself in unfamiliar territory when his name was floated around in trade talks.

The rumors pushed him to consider an early retirement from the league. Fortunately, the Pats front office ended up reworking Gronkowski’s contract and did not go through with any proposed trades. The team now sits on a 3-2 record, with a highly anticipated matchup against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Gronkowski (the horse)
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Life extends beyond the field for Gronkowski, though, who has spent nine seasons in the league. The 29-year-old has become as famous for his outgoing personality as he has for his football talent.

He’s held a blow-out party aboard a cruise ship and wrestled in the WWE, and when he heard there was a racehorse named after him, Gronkowski bought a minority stake in it just weeks before it qualified for the Belmont Stakes in June. During the race, Gronkowski (the horse) defied expectations and placed second only behind Justify, who would earn the Triple Crown that day.

“In the Belmont, Grownkowski the horse got such a terrible start out of the gates, and then all of sudden around the turns, just catching up after being so many yards behind, and just making a comeback to gain second and almost get first place — that was just an unreal experience,” Gronkowski tells PEOPLE.

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“It just felt like you were the horse during the race. In the beginning, when he started last and then came back, it was just a buzz of excitement.”

Rob Gronkowski and Camille Kostek
Dave Mangels/Getty

Gronkowski has also found time to build a budding relationship with Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Camille Kostek. Kicking back and watching movies, Gronkowski says, is how they wind down from their busy schedules.

“You got your career, and you have to just split time on both sides,” Gronkowski says. “When it’s time for business, it’s time for business, and when it’s time for the relationship, it’s time for the relationship. But she’s very busy too with her stuff, so we put the two and two together, since I’m very busy too, so it works out well.”

As part of Gronkowski’s Honey Nut Cheerios partnership, he, actor Michael B. Jordan and actress Lucy Hale, are competing to raise money for their individual charities.

If Gronkowski comes out on top, the top prize of $100,000 will go to the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation charity, which provides help for young people in both education and physical activities. Having an opportunity to play sports as a kid is something that Gronkowski says paved the way for his success.

“Backyard baseball, pickup basketball, mini sticks in the basement, wrestling, board game, whatever it was, I always stayed active when I was growing up,” he says. “If it ended good, if it ended bad, no matter what, we were going back at it again the next day. It was always chaos, and I just couldn’t ask for another situation growing up, because it just helped me to get to where I am now.”

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