If you haven’t seen the social media sensation known as ‘Baby Gronk’, he’s quite an image to behold. A 10-year-old kid whose dad is pushing as a perfect, pint-sized prospect, has gone viral. However, some critics say the youngster is merely being exploited and forced into an unwilling spotlight.
For a little bit of background, Baby Gronk’s real name is Madden San Miguel (yes, ‘Madden’ like the video series). He’s a powerful youngster who does have a knack for football and some true athletic prowess.
He’s considerably bigger than most kids and uses his large frame to dominate his competition. And Madden is clearly advanced for his age, so with all the attention he’s receiving, he’s sure to always be in the public eye as he grows and develops as a player.
But then again, he’s only 10.
So, in a few years, he’s going to discover girls and might forget all about football. At that time of your life, it’s hard to know who you’re going to be when you eventually grow up.
And therein lies the problem for some fans and observers who have seen the rise of the pre-teen prospect. And most of their ire is beginning to be focused on the boy’s father, Jake San Miguel, who they say isn’t allowing his precocious progeny the chance to just “be a kid”.
Jake San Miguel is a self-described social media expert and marketing expert, who believes that he has Baby Grink on the way to superstardom. In many ways, he’s almost made it less about how Baby Gronk actually plays, and more about how much he’s seen.
So far, it’s been more about photo ops and social media clicks thus far, but the senior San Miguel says that they are going full force together, in terms of becoming a future football force. And he’s not backing down. He says that he’s all in when it comes to securing his son’s future.
“I’ve had a plan for my son since before he was born,” Jake told The Athletic last week. “It’s playing out now.”
“I do marketing, man. On that end, I can’t give too much because I wouldn’t want to give away what I do. It’s a brand. It’s a movement. I do all of that. I manage everything.”
“I know a lot of people,” Jake Miguel added. “I have friends who played in the NFL. I have friends who coach in the Power 5. Former teammates from my high school team. I know people who run social media for a lot of companies.”
Despite his reassurances, several fans and members of the media have expressed concern that Baby Gronk’s long-term physical and mental health could be at risk. He’s being exposed to a fast-paced, celebrity lifestyle, not one suited for a school-aged child. Baby Gronk has been seen online, posing in pictures with everyone from Shaquille O’Neal to Mark Wahlberg when he should probably be chilling in the sandbox with kids his own age.
Jake has mentioned that he himself was a high school football star, but quit playing after he tore his ACL. That’s led to widespread speculation that he’s essentially just living vicariously through his son now. And that he sees Madden as a possible meal ticket for years to come.
He’s drawn comparison to infamous ‘Sports Dad’ Lavar Ball, who notoriously pimped out the talents of his talented trio of sons, Lonzo, LaMelo, and LiAngelo. Considered more of a hindrance than a help, the paternal Ball likely cost his boys millions of dollars and some of their potential by trying to strong-arm the NBA and the media.
The Father of the latest sports sensation seems to fit the same mold, often comparing his boy to LeBron James, in terms of the hype they are receiving at the grade school level. However, James was still an established star on many levels when he became a future face of a franchise. Meanwhile, Baby Gronk appears to be more the product of some well-placed hype.
Here we have Baby Gronk’s dad feeding him answers on the Bring the Juice pod. Hey kid, blink twice if you’re tired of being dad’s clout bait pic.twitter.com/UltW1vCYTB
— Francis (@franciscellis) June 13, 2023
Or as one person posted on Twitter: “The kid never looks happy when you see him. The dad is 5’6″, the kid will be lucky to be 5’10”. It’s shameful that anyone would entertain the thought of having a 10-year-old on a podcast to exploit him, his dad, and the hosts.”
As things stand right now, Baby Gronk and his dad continue to tour the country, visiting major colleges and taking pictures with megastars. And (of course) they’re posting it all online… every step of the way.
And in the end, that’s what this seems to be about the most. While the young player might turn out to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated or a Wheaties box someday? For now, he’s mostly just a viral curiosity. So in the end? This story will likely end up being more about attracting fame than actually playing football.