Gronk: 'I would never put myself in jeopardy'

Gronk: 'I would never put myself in jeopardy'
March 27, 2013, 12:00 pm
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After appearing to put his health in minor jeopardy last month by running through some staged wrestling moves in Las Vegas, Rob Gronkowski told a pair of ESPN radio hosts on Wednesday he would never “put myself in jeopardy.”
Speaking on Mike and Mike in the Morning (an ESPN radio joint), Gronkowski was asked about the response of Patriots fans after video surfaced of Gronk dancing like a shirtless donkey and tepidly taking down a friend while wearing a cast on his twice-broken left arm.  
“They’re my fans. They’re looking out for me, they’re big fans of the Patriots, they just want to see the team do well and I totally understand where the fans are coming from,” Gronkowski said. “I would never do that, put myself in jeopardy.”
Since the need to stake out positions at extremes is a fact-of-life in 2013 (probably always has been, but…), the helicopter parents from the Republic of Patriot began feverishly fanning themselves with their hymnals when that latest instance of Gronk being Gronk dropped.
Meanwhile, brave renegades and defenders of personal freedoms in the Republic, glanced over their shoulders to make sure the boss wasn’t bearing down on their cubicle and pecked out demands to leave Gronk alone and let him be 23.
Screw both sides.
The facts are these. In 2009, Gronk has missed an entire college football season at Arizona after back surgery.
He broke his ankle in the 2011 playoffs and was fairly useless in the Super Bowl against the Giants – although he tried like hell to be relevant. After the season, he had it surgically repaired. He broke his left arm in 2012 on a fluke play against the Colts and had it surgically repaired. He broke it again in the Divisional Playoffs against the Texans and had it surgically repaired. He got an infection in the arm and had it surgically repaired.
The ankle and the first break to the arm were flukes. The back and the second break to the arm were by-products of the style of play that helped make him author the most statistically impressive season by a tight end in NFL history in 2011. The infection? Who knows? Might have happened if he was living a virtually germ-free existence. Or something might have crawled under the cast while he was sleeping peacefully in Vegas.
Gronk’s definition of putting his health in jeopardy is a little different than that of the general populace. And that doesn’t mean his definition is wrong. But there will always be a disconnect between what an elite, 23-year-old athlete with a penchant for acting like he’s 14 finds appropriate and what his employers and teammates think is a good idea.
Gronkowski is one of the Patriots five most important players. Had New England been in possession of a healthy Gronk the last two Januarys, it’s not difficult to imagine different playoff outcomes.
He’s now in possession of a six-year, $53 million deal with $16 million guaranteed. He’s entering his fourth season.
When Gronkowski signed his deal, his father Gord said, “The money, it's nice, don't get me wrong, but it will not change him. Rob will always be Rob the goofball."
So he’s Peter Pan in shoulder pads. He doesn’t want to grow up and his Gronk-tourage certainly doesn’t want him to either.
What do the people who rely on Gronkowski at the workplace want? Probably just a little more forethought.