Why Are We Letting Gronk Off So Easy?


Written by Timothy Lewis (@TimothyELewis) — December 6th, 2017

Per his Wikipedia page:

[Rob] Gronkowski is known for his fun-loving personality, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being quoted as saying:

“Gronk is a one of a kind person, player and friend. He is one of the most positive people I have ever been around and he loves to have fun. What you see is what you get and whether he is dancing, singing, laughing, or spiking, he is true to himself.”

He’s also the life of the party. №87 has even admitted he supplements his on-field prowess with his off-field antics:

“You go out and get refreshed, and it just makes you want to go back out on that practice field and keep going hard.”

Incredible dedication mixed with a rare blend of size and athleticism have propelled Gronk, along with his magnetic personality, to NFL superstardom.

These things don’t matter. It is an omission of justice to mitigate disgusting behavior because of the perpetrator’s public image. One thing is very clear: A single-game suspension is an absolute indictment of the NFL’s moral fiber.

To understand the heinous nature of Gronkowski’s actions, we have a couple examples from this season to set precedent.

First, there’s Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib’s “fight” that was originally issued a two-game suspension before being reduced to one game after the appeal process. Here’s the bout:

Next, we have the one-game suspension for Mike Evans’ leveling of Marshon Lattimore, where, much like Gronkowski, the cheapshot was delivered to the back of his opponent:

via Highlight Heaven

Both of these incidents show an utter disdain for sportsmanship and compromise the integrity of the game. However, context is the most important factor in levying judgement. Right or wrong, Crabtree and Talib were ready to settle their feud. They started their altercation in the midst of a football play and met face to face in the ensuing chaos. For all the talk of their standoff, neither landed so much as a glancing blow.

Now, take Evans’ cheapshot on Lattimore: It was no doubt dirty. If there’s any solace to be found, it’s that he came to the aid of a teammate, his quarterback no less. The shot, while jarring, contacted Lattimore in the back. Before any further violence took place the two were separated.

In both instances, no player sustained injury.

The devil is in the details, and Gronkowski should have to face severe consequences for his actions. He didn’t “get into it” with an opposing player, he committed a criminal act, punishing a fellow athlete with a traumatic brain injury after the play was whistled dead. Tre’davious White is 7 inches shorter and weighs roughly 90 lbs. less, further exemplifying the sinister nature of Gronk’s targeted head shot. If you need any confirmation, here’s the footage:

via Highlight Heaven

Focusing on Tre’davious White’s pass interference no-call is missing the point entirely. One action is a football penalty, the other is a deplorable act on another human’s immediate and long-term well-being. It makes Ndamukong Suh’s collection of dirty outbursts look like child’s play.

Gronk’s apology was just as tasteless, saying he’s “not in the business of that.” Actions speak louder than words. He may be a child at heart, but he’s a behemoth in body, and the example he set is that of a thug. Even worse, he seeks to justify the frustration he blames for the violent escalation, whining over previous calls that should have been. When asked about the dangers of losing his cool, Gronk was sure to mention how it’s detrimental, not because of the damage he inflicted onto another person, but because of the damage it could cause to his team.

So what kind of person is Rob Gronkowski?

He’s childish to the point that he lacks rudimentary emotional intelligence. He’s impulsive to the point he’s a danger to his fellow athletes. He lacks the ability to separate a game from reality. And the reality is, a fellow football player is being evaluated for a brain injury because the tight end had a temper tantrum over not getting his way.

In a time when the NFL has taken strides towards addressing concussions, this was a golden opportunity to state that reckless endangerment of its athletes is unacceptable. Instead, the ruling was botched on one of the dirtiest plays in recent memory. One can’t help but think the stardom of Gronkowski contributed to the NFL’s spineless leniency.

Fortunately, some analysts are not afraid to rock the boat, such at those involved in ESPN’s recent episode of First Take. Reputation and public adoration should not equate to a “get out of jail free” card when somebody commits an act of reprehensible violence.

Forget a suspension from football, such unabashed brutality should be dealt with in a court of law.

*edited for accuracy December 6th, 11:08 AM regarding Gronkowski’s appeal of the suspension*

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