As a long time resident of the Massachusetts and, more specifically, the Boston area, this past Sunday really has me scratching my head. For anyone that’s still not aware, TE Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots landed a blatantly obvious dirty hit by elbowing Buffalo Bills CB Tre’Davious White on the back of the head after he was down on the ground and the play in question had ended. By all accounts, this is an illegal and underhanded move and Gronkowksi absolutely deserves the one game suspension for his actions. Regardless of how frustrated he was, there’s no excuse for dirty plays like that. The fact that Gronkowksi even tried to appeal the suspension, to me, is mind boggling. You can make whatever argument you’d like in defense of Gronkowski, but it’s nothing that’s going to excuse the type of behavior he exhibited.
The thing that really gets me here is that New England fans are rushing to the defense of Gronkowski as if he’s some sort of martyr for being suspended one game for a dirty hit. For the past few days, any time I listen to the radio or turn on the TV to a local station that’s all people can talk about. I look on Facebook, Twitter, or any social media and that’s all people are attempting to do: defend a blatantly dirty hit. The one constant thought I’ve had about this is something that Patriots fans need to take a long, hard look at. If the Patriots are “the team” as they consider themselves, then why does the team, it’s players, or it’s fans need to resort to dirty plays when frustration amounts during a game? Why does the fan base feel the need to defend someone who clearly was in the wrong?
The biggest argument I’ve heard in defense of Gronkowski is that he was being interfered with the entire game. As someone who is a Patriots fan, I’ll vouch for Buffalo here and say that he was not interfered with the entire game. Gronkowski was simply covered like he should have been. In short, the Bills defense was doing it’s job that it gets paid millions upon millions of dollars to do. Funny concept, isn’t it? Bill Belichick is less than impressed with his star tight end too, as multiple news outlets have reported that during the post-game handshake in center field he was quoted as saying that the hit “was bull****”.
At the end of the day, Rob Gronkowski needs to be a better player than that. He knows what he did is wrong, and appealing a suspension for being clearly in the wrong doesn’t show any sign of either accepting he was in the wrong or attempting to make atonement for it. He plays for one of the most notable and successful franchises in the entire National Football League, and I’m fairly certain he knows better by now than to engage in cheap, underhanded plays. Whether he actually accepts his fault here and tries to be a better player is beyond my knowledge. What I do know, however, is that Gronkowski is in for one hell of a time when the Bills and Patriots meet next. They’ll meet again on Christmas Eve in the prime time slot of Sunday Night Football, and any betting man can safely say that the Bills will be out for revenge in full force.