Rob Gronkowski suffered a bad boo boo against the Colts on Sunday afternoon, putting a damper on what was probably the Patriots’ most impressive win of the season. The big tight end reportedly (Comcast’s Tom Curran had it first) broke his left forearm while blocking during New England’s final extra point attempt. Initially, I felt the same way as the Globe’s Chad Finn, who tried to convince himself that Gronkowski won’t let a mere broken bone slow him down.
“It’s telling, both regarding his toughness and my willful obliviousness, that the first question that came to mind when I heard a few minutes after leaving the Patriots locker room for the press box was: ‘Can he play with it?’” Finn wrote. “Hey, if anyone can play tight end with an arm encased in plaster, it’s Gronk, right? He’d still be able to spike, too. He’s gonna be OK! I believe that’s what’s known as denial.”
This morning, the denial has worn off. Gronk has already had surgery and will be out of action for a while.
But I’d like to make a request to fans and the media. As frustrating as it was watching Gronkowski get hurt, please do not spend the week bitching about the fact that Bill Belichick left one of his most important players in at the tail end of a blowout. (Predictably, Pro Football Talk’s comments section, a cesspool filled with posts that seem written by Patton Oswalt’s character in Big Fan, is already in rare form.)
The NFL is nauseatingly brutal. Career-ending, life-altering injuries can happen at any moment. Would you rather have seen Gronkowski go down in the first quarter? That would’ve been just as painful—for him and for us. For these guys, there are no inconsequential plays. The only way to totally reduce risk is to quit. And thankfully, Gronk won’t be doing that any time soon.
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