During this past week, much of the post-Super Bowl discussion has centered on Rob Gronkowski and his partying after the Patriots’ loss. The topic isn’t necessarily Philly-related, but the Gronk’s actions and the resulting discussion resonate with sports fans everywhere. Reader Jeff Cavanaugh (@cav87) has some thoughts on the matter– he thinks we should leave Gronk alone.
I am not a New England Patriots fan… I can't even pretend to be. In fact, I loathe them. I cringe putting on ratty grey hoodies; I stopped buying Kraft macaroni and cheese; hell, I don't even flip through Victoria's Secret catalogs anymore. Ok, that last one is a lie… but you get the point.
Being the team that beat the Philadelphia Eagles in their only Super Bowl appearance in my lifetime, the Patriots are an unforgivable band of cheaters. I loved seeing the Patriots lose on Sunday as much as I hated seeing the New York Giants win.
Even though it kills me every year to watch an Eagle-less Super Bowl, there is no way I would ever consider missing a single one… even if it is between the Giants and Patriots.
A lot was revealed Sunday night in Indianapolis:
- Eli Manning's mannerisms may evoke images of a terrified second grader, but there is no better late game QB in the NFL. (I can’t believe I wrote that.)
- No matter how dreadfully boring the first three and a half quarters are, any Super Bowl will be remembered as 'one of the best' with a good final five minutes.
- Gisele hates Wes Welker. And Deion Branch. And Aaron Hernandez. (C'mon, her husband can't throw the ball and catch it at the same time!)
- Rob Gronkowski is a far better football player than dancer.
And thanks to the year 2012 and the current state of media, it should come as no surprise that the seemingly most talked about post-Super Bowl story line is Rob Gronkowski's arms-flailing, chest-bumping caveman dance routine on a high-ankle sprain following the Super Bowl loss. (Seeing him dance, it’s no wonder his end zone celebration is just a big spike)
Give me a break.
All the 6'6”, 265-pound Gronkowski did in 2011 was put together the best statistical season of any tight end in NFL history. He broke the NFL record for tight end receiving yards with a staggering 1,327 yards and his 17 touchdown catches shattered the old record of 13.
When you put up numbers like that, you should get a free pass to do whatever you want on your bye week – and Gronk did, hanging out with adult film star Bibi Jones. (Curious question — why is everyone working in the adult film industry considered a “star”? Shouldn’t there be some record of accomplishment or critical acclaim like in every other industry before proclaiming stardom?)
Gronkowski was the Patriots most consistent and most dangerous weapon throughout their run to the Super Bowl… until New England nemesis Bernard Pollard struck again in the AFC Championship Game. Already despised throughout the northeast for ending Tom Brady’s 2008 season before it started and playing a part in Wes Welker’s week 17 ACL/MCL tear a year later, Pollard’s third-quarter tackle of Gronkowski caused a high-ankle sprain that hobbled the All-Pro tight end in the Super Bowl.
Visibly ineffective in the Patriots 21-17 loss to the Giants, Gronkowski only caught two passes for 26 yards and was a step slow reacting to a tipped last-second Hail Mary.
Coming so close to winning a Super Bowl and not knowing if your team will ever get back to that point is a crushing blow to most football players. Sports reporters and ESPN talking heads seem to believe that if they were in the situation, they would spend weeks on end sequestered in a dark, lonely hotel room with a bottle of whiskey and a box of tissues.
Not only do I find that unlikely, but it’s downright obnoxious. You have the rest of your life to beat yourself up about losing the Super Bowl, but in the moment, at the big game, you deserve to celebrate. And there is a lot to celebrate – – the Patriots won their division, earned the #1 seed in the AFC, won the AFC Championship, made it to the Super Bowl, and after seven mentally and physically exhausting months – the season was over.
Did I mention that Gronk is only 22 years old? (22!) If I became an NFL superstar and made it to the Super Bowl at 22-years-old, I would have undoubtedly Gronked and then some on Sunday night.
The fans and the media need to get off of his back. While he’s done a lot more for the tight end position than he has the ‘dumb jock’ stereotype this season, he is who he is and the fans and media shouldn’t crucify him for having a little fun.
We need more athletes like Rob Gronkowski. More athletes that aren't afraid to be who they are; ones that don't hide behind the facade of some manufactured image. At the end of the day, even though we all put professional athletes and celebrities on a pedestal, they are just regular people that shouldn’t be judged for ever step or misstep they make outside of their professional environment.
But the question remains… if the Patriots won, would Gronk have survived a victory celebration?
You can follow Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter (@cav87).