Rob Gronkowski is out. Word on the Internet is the broken forearm he suffered on an extra point attempt during Sunday’s win over the Indianapolis Colts could cost him 4-8 weeks playing time.
But that’s not what has the Twitter world abuzz. The debate is whether Gronkowski should have been out there in the first place. The play in question was the eighth and final point-after attempt by the Patriots in their 59-24 rout of the Colts. Gronkowski seemingly got his arms tangled with those of teammate Sergio Brown and the end result was an early-morning surgery on Monday and at least a couple weeks of healing.
Bill Belichick has been under fire from the media and fans for his decision to put Gronkowski on the field when he really didn’t need to be there. Was there no other player who could have handled that role on special teams? Why Gronk? Belichick responded to his critics on WEEI, saying it would be a bad practice in his mind to keep certain players out of “harm’s way” and not others.
“I don’t think that’s really a good way to approach a team. I’ve never done that. I don’t think that would be a very successful approach to it,” Belichick said. “You only have so many players. You only dress so many players. Somebody’s got to play. I think you’ve got to be careful when you’re trying to run a team, to go up to one guy and say, ‘Michael, we’re going to leave you in the game because we care about you, but Glenn, we’re going to take you out because you’re really important. You other guys go in there because if something happens to you, we don’t really care.”
And you know what? He’s right. What if the team had put in a back-up tight end, like Daniel Fells, and he had suffered the same injury? Would there be a public outrage then? Just because he’s a starter, does that put Gronk above the rest of his teammates? Of course it doesn’t.
The great thing about Belichick is that, in his eyes, all players are equal. He can cut anyone without flinching; why would he shy away from putting his biggest offensive weapon into the game if the situation calls for him, regardless of score?
The last thing any coach wants is a locker room where guys know who really “matters” and who doesn’t. That creates tension. It creates negativity. It creates the kind of competition among players you don’t want, where one thinks he’s sitting on a throne while another rests on a bale of hay.
Will it hurt the Patriots to have Gronkowski out for a few weeks? Definitely. Can they overcome it? Certainly. Injuries happen in football. It’s a brutal game. But realistically, in 100 PAT’s, how many of them would result in an injury like that? Maybe 1%. It happens.
The Patriots will play on. That’s what they got all them tight ends for anyway.