Rob Gronkwoski’s actions on Sunday were certainly out of character, but it’s looking more and more like the Patriots may be without his services when New England plays next Monday night down in Miami.
After having some time to digest the situation, here are a few reasons why there may be cause to be concerned about the league handing down a suspension on New England’s star tight end after what happened on Sunday.
1) Gronkowski probably won’t get the benefit of the doubt – The fact Gronkowski wasn’t ejected following the hit on Tre’Davious White was surprising, because as much as we want to defend him, it falls into the category of the types of hits that the league is trying to curtail when it comes to player safety.
One of the downsides when it comes to animated GIFs is the fact that the more you watch it, the worse it looks.
What the hell are you doing, Gronk? pic.twitter.com/mZTgJA62eU
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 3, 2017
Seeing how hard Gronkowski’s forearm strikes the back of White’s head is disturbing, with his head being driven into the ground by the force of the impact. Looking back at the tape, when White eventually gets back to his feet, his mouth is bloodied and you can clearly see he looks a little disoriented.
Let’s be honest. If the shoe was on the other foot and another player had struck Malcolm Butler in the back of his head while he was down after making an interception, as well as put him into the concussion protocol, we’d be screaming for the league to come down on that player. All you need to do is go back to the AFC Championship game a few years ago and remember the ire that Bill Belichick felt after Broncos receiver Wes Welker hit then Patriots defensive back Aqib Talib early in the game in Denver that sidelined Talib for the remainder of the contest. That one was at least somewhat questionable, yet Belichick pulled no punches afterwards, calling it “one of the worst hits I’ve seen”. He wasn’t impressed this time either, pulling Gronkowski out for the rest of the game and telling Bills coach Sean McDermott it was a “bulls–t” play.
But as for the fans, the national backlash with this definitely shouldn’t surprise anyone.
To make matters worse, as ESPN’s Kevin Seifert points out, while some believe he’ll escape because he’s without any previous offenses, Gronkowski unfortunately doesn’t have a squeaky clean record as it pertains to his history. He was fined $8,268 in 2015 for fighting near the end of the Patriots Super Bowl XLIX victory over Seattle, along with being fined the same amount for unnecessary roughness in the infamous play where he threw Sergio Brown “out of the club” after blocking him out of the end zone.
Most fans here laughed about that one (and it was pretty funny). But the league clearly viewed it differently and it cost him then, and it might cost him even more dearly now.
As a result, Gronkowski may have opened the door for the league to hit the tight end and the Patriots where it hurts, which could see him sidelined as a result of this.
Gronkowski’s hit left White in rough shape.
2) The league has already dropped the hammer recently on player altercations – The three game suspension levied by the NFL against Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict on a blindside block in the preseason was one thing, especially given Burfict’s history for being a dirty player. But the two game suspensions against Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver cornerback Aqib Talib likely set a precedent that could hurt Gronkowski in this case.
What was surprising about that situation was the fact Crabtree received an equal penalty, especially when it was an unprovoked move on Talib’s behalf, who already pulled that stunt in the past against the Oakland receiver. The league opted to punish both players with what most felt was a pretty severe penalty, and an appeal did get it lowered to one game. But neither player injured the other, and it’s obvious that the league was trying to set the bar for future altercations and it’s hard to argue that Gronkowski’s actions will allow him to get out of this completely unscathed.
He’ll also potentially take a hit financially, as former sports agent Joel Corry points out:
If Rob Gronkowski gets a 1 game suspension instead of a fine, there's no way he'll hit the statistical or playtime thresholds to max out the $5.5M of incentives that were added to his 2017 contract year. He would need to be named 1st team All-Pro by AP to get all $5.5M.
— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) December 4, 2017
3) The Patriots are the last team given any leeway when it comes to the NFL – This one should be pretty self explanatory. If the last two years plus have taught us anything, we’ve learned that the people on Park Avenue have little sympathy when it comes to this football team.
For those who are still rightfully irritated with the fact Tom Brady served a four-game suspension for something that didn’t happen, all you need to remember is how even more ridiculous it was that he didn’t receive any consideration under his appeal in lowering his suspension given that his history as a player was far cleaner than Gronk’s.
At the end of the day, even for those who considered Brady guilty, it should have been nothing more than an equipment violation and a fine, or at the absolute worst, a one or two game suspension. Four remains a punishment that was clearly over the top and unnecessary, yet that didn’t stop the league from upholding it.
But Gronkowski’s forearm striking the back of White’s head has likely got the powers that be in New York excited over the opportunity to hit New England again, likely putting Gronkowski’s status for next week – or longer – in question.
Unfortunately, Gronkowski has put himself in a bad position and we’ve obviously seen more than enough to realize that now that the league has another legitimate reason to levy punishment to this team, things probably won’t bode well for him. After all, they didn’t really have one with Brady, yet he missed an entire month.
In the end, it may simply be a situation of not whether or not he’s suspended, but how much time he’ll miss. Needless to say, brace yourself for bad news, because it’s probably coming.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2017 Patriots Season Buffalo Bills NFL Rob Gronkowski Tre'Davious White