Thirteen players have been ejected from NFL games so far this season, the most in a single season since 2001. Patriots tight end and overgrown child Rob Gronkowski should have been the 14th, but officials decided his attack of prone Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White on Sunday did not warrant that level of punishment.
Now the debate that will take place today in NFL circles and popular Boston sports talk radio shows like “Sully and the Beans,” “Man Up in the Morning, Boston,” and “The Callahan Chowder Hour” is this: Should Gronkowski be suspended for the infraction?
To get to the bottom of it, I allowed Murph, a die-hard Boston sports fan, to defend Gronkowski in this Q&A session that definitely happened and wasn’t typed on my couch Sunday night while I watched the Eagles–Seahawks game.
Murph: Suspend Gronk? You fuckin’ kidding me, bro?
Me: Well, let’s consider what he did. With White down on his stomach and the play over, Gronkowski took a running start and dove shoulder-first into the back of White’s head, which then bounced off the turf and resulted in a concussion. It was a blind-side, post-whistle hit where the principle point of contact was White’s head.
Come on, these are two NFL guys playing hard, it’s not like there’s a big difference in size between these two, right? Why can’t White walk it off and suck it up?
White is 5'11'', 192 pounds; Gronkowski is 6'6'', 265 pounds.
What’s that, like a 40-pound difference?
It’s more like 70 pounds.
Whatever bro, this is football, not math ball. Wasn’t this White guy asking for it?
Come on bro, he shoved Gronk. You don’t shove Gronk, bro. My sister once saw a guy shove Gronk at a club, and Gronk tore his arms off.
That never happened.
OK, fine, but sometimes things happen in the heat of battle, don’t you have to admit that?
I do not. White definitely shoved Gronkowski while the ball was in the air, which is absolutely illegal. But it’s not like White gouged Gronk's eyes or socked him in the testicles; he pushed off in an attempt to defend a pass. This wasn't some shoving match at the line of scrimmage that got out of control. Gronkowski took a running start at White and targeted a vulnerable, totally defenseless player’s head. That’s worth at least one game, maybe even two games when you consider White suffered a brain injury as a result of it.
Yeah, but Gronk apologized and like Jesus says, forgive thou unto others and let forgiveness come to you.
Man, that’s not a Bible quote. Have you even read the Bible?
Nah, but I heard something like it in an episode of Boston’s Finest with Donnie Wahlberg. Kid can act, bro. But Gronk apologized and that should count for something.
It shouldn’t. Who cares if he’s sorry? Of course he’s sorry. No one is saying Gronkowski is a bad person (he seems pretty great!) or even has a history of doing stuff like this, but what did you think he would say at his locker after his game? “Yeah, I did that shit, and I loved it. It felt good to thump his skull off the turf. Let that be a lesson to anyone who ever makes contact with me when a ball is in the air. I did it once and I’ll do it again. I hope they fine me $69,000 too because that number is hilarious.”
Are you laughing because I said 69?
[_Laughing harder_] Yeah.
[_Laughing_] Yeah, that is funny.
Right? OK, but now I’ve got you in checkmate. You said he doesn’t have a history of that stuff, so the NFL can’t suspend him. Ipso facto, how do you like them apples?
While Gronkowski doesn’t have a history of acts this egregious, he was fined twice during the Patriots’ 2015 Super Bowl season for fighting and unnecessary roughness. What Gronkowski did to White was a huge escalation from those previous acts, but it’s not as though Gronkowski has been angel, so a suspension has to be levied here to send a message.
But it’s just boys being boys. What if this happened in a bar fight?
Gronkowski would spend the night in jail and be charged with assault.
OK, but what if he did this in wrestling, like WWE?
They’d stop the match because Diamond Dick Dandy or whoever is a famous wrestler now would be unconscious and they probably wouldn’t ask Gronkowski back for future matches.
What if this happened in hockey?
He would definitely be susp—OK, fine, nothing would happen if this were the NHL. You’ve got me there.
Yeah, I do bro. You’re so owned. Bruins rule!
Here’s the thing, though: If you’re a Patriots fan, you shouldn’t even care.
Bro, I care. Go Pats.
Right, but let’s say the Patriots don’t have Gronkowski this week against the Dolphins. Does it really matter?
You’re blowing my mind like an episode of Ray Donovan.
That’s why the NFL can make an example out of Gronkowski and give him at least a game, because his absence means the Patriots will win by 14 instead of 20 this week. And Gronkowski gets an extra week of rest on a team that should be playing in January, something else you should like. Really, the only people that should care about this suspension are people that own Gronkowski in fantasy.
Bro, of course I own him. That’s why Gronk If You’re Horny is 10-4 and headed to the fantasy playoffs!
Then Gronkowski will be back for Week 15 against the Steelers, a game where he will be necessary to win.
OK, but as long we agree Gronkowski doesn’t deserve to be suspended.
We don’t agree. Have you been paying attention? He should be suspended one game, minimum. He intentionally drove a man’s head into the ground and that man suffered a concussion as a result. Even if the officiating crew had ejected Gronkowski, he still deserves a game. Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree got into a fistfight two weeks ago. Neither guy was hurt and the league gave them each two games before the suspension was reduced to one game on appeal. Those two guys squared off face-to-face; Gronkowski took a run at a guy who not only was down but had his back turned away after the whistle. One game isn’t asking a lot.
This is just the NFL out to get us! Us against them! Us against them!
You’re an idiot.
Wait, aren’t you the guy who wrote that the Patriots were done when they were 2-2 and now they’re 10-2?
I gotta go.