SEASON'S GREETINGS, BRAH
Robert James "Gronk" Gronkowski has officially been suspended one week by the National Football League. Speaking as a die-hard, unapologetic fanboy, I am in favor of this suspension. His hit, which I will not embed in this blog post, was illegal, unnecessary, and totally out of line. That much is not being debated any serious-minded people. Nevertheless, I have been asked my thoughts about this situation by no less than five people since this happened. I've decided to collect my thoughts in this blog post, and will refer to it when the next person asks me if I think the All-Pro tight end ought to be jettisoned into the heart of the sun. What follows are ten points that I think are absolutely and inherently true.
1. Gronk has every right to be frustrated with the offensive pass interference penalties called against him. No one else in the league is called for what he does. Similarly, Gronk has every right to be frustrated with the lack of defensive pass interference and defensive holding penalties called against his defenders on a regular basis. It's patently ridiculous, and the league ought to address it (not that it's stopped the New England Patriots from winning two Super Bowls since they drafted him, but fair's fair).
2. Gronk does not have the right to take out his frustration on Tre'Davious White (who - and this is entirely unrelated, but I just wanted to mention it - is one of the best rookie cornerbacks I've ever seen, and should be considered a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate behind the sensational Marshon Lattimore). The referees were the ones not calling the penalties on White, and Gronk certainly can't go after them either.
3. Gronk should be personally and professionally ashamed of his actions. He went needlessly hard after White (again, the referees were really the source of his anger), and what's more is he went after White's head. The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles have got into brawls over this. We're not talking about good, clean football, or a man's livelihood, or whether there are children watching. We're talking about a man's long-term health. White is now in concussion protocol, and could develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of this hit. This matters.
4. This is not in Gronk's character, and it's his first such action of this sort (anyone who claims his overzealous block on Sergio Brown is at all comparable is intellectually devoid of merit). Gronk is well known as a charitable member of the NFL, very kind and generous to fans, and largely agreeable with opponents. He's an easygoing guy, and just snapped out of frustration. That certainly doesn't make it okay - and in fact makes it all the more disturbing - but his lack of a prior history means that a one game suspension is entirely appropriate.
Gronk is only concerned with ethics in gaming journalism.
5. It is okay for people (such as Rodney Harrison) to think Gronk should have been suspended for more than one game, and it is okay for people (such as Larry Fitzgerald) to think Gronk should not have been suspended at all. This is a debate worth having. I feel as though I could be convinced either way right now. No one (to my knowledge) is arguing that Gronk should have escaped this fiasco without any punishment at all (at the very least he should have been fined heavily). There is no hard and fast rule for what Gronk did; such a rule would be untenable. There isn't very much consistency with this sort of thing anyway; just look at Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree getting suspensions for their brouhaha, yet A.J. Green escapes without a single game on his record.
6. Gronk must be prepared for retribution. The Buffalo Bills, to their credit, did not even react when he got flagged for that play. No one even shoved him. That stuck out in my mind: why wouldn't you defend your defensive MVP getting cheap-shotted? If they're saving something for him for the game in Foxboro, would anyone be surprised? Could anyone blame them? Obviously an eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind, but remember last year when the Bills started something over warm-up lines. There's something brewing here.
7. Gronk must be prepared for the collective outrage the nation will level at him and the organization. We just watched an AFC North rivalry on Monday Night Football that supplied more devastating hits than Jacked Up, and yet it's obvious that people are going to whinge incessantly over Gronk's shameful attack. This is a man who's been attacked for having the unmitigated audacity to smile during the offseason; you just know that people are going to go after him here - and rightfully so. This, like Deflategate, will go beyond the player - it'll go to the front office. Surely this was an illegal scheme cooked up by Bill Belichick and Ernie Adams in the labs at Deep 13 to remove the best defensive player on a division rival's defense.
*KSSH* squad car 5150, this is Codename: Nasty Butler, we have reports of a man having fun during the offseason, over *KSSH*
8. Gronk was right to appeal his decision. A) It is his right. B) The NFLPA encourages every player to appeal every punishment. C) He will be missing out on ~$280,000 plus ~$2,000,000 in incentives by missing this entire week. D) A decision on his suspension here will provide clarity on what is and is not permissible in the league. E) There is no E.
9. In the words of Ernie Adams: "A good football team has gotta be like a racehorse. You gotta have the blinders on, goin' straight ahead." You need to ignore the noise, the hype, the distractions, the detractors, the media, and the fans. Focus on the goal at hand. This team overcame a four game suspension to the greatest quarterback in league history; surely it can sustain a one game suspension to the greatest tight end in league history.
10. The second greatest tight end in league history is Mark Bavaro.
AND A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE, BRO