On Thursday afternoon, The Buffalo News reported that Patriots’ star tight end Rob Gronkowski will undergo back surgery to repair a ruptured disk. Gronk suffered the injury back on November 13th against the Seattle Seahawks. He is expected to miss eight weeks. This is devastating news to all Patriots fans who have suffered through a multitude of Rob Gronkowski injuries. Here are my first reactions.
I Should’ve Prepared My Heart for This
Everything was going so great! Sure, Gronk missed the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury, but he came back and never missed a beat! In the five full games he’s played he’s accumulated 529 yards, 3 TDs, and a league-high 22.04 yards per catch.
I completely bought into it. I would hold my breath every time Gronk would get hit, but as I’d watch him gingerly lift himself off the ground, I had the same “That’s my boy!” reaction, clapping my hands in approval. Never did I think about how broken his body must be and how certain another injury was.
This injury is no surprise. But I still didn’t expect it.
Will Gronk Ever Be the Same?
Rob Gronkowski has never once played a full season in the NFL. He has suffered more injuries than I can count. His name has been a permanent fixture on the Patriots’ injury report for the past 6 years. But here’s the incredible part: every time Gronk has come back from an injury, it’s like nothing ever happened. There has been no sign of Gronk’s injury-riddled past slowing him down. Sure, he now plays with that arm brace that makes him look like a Bionicle, but that hasn’t taken away from his play.
Gronk’s ruptured disk surgery will be his third back surgery. I don’t claim to be a doctor but it seems like out of all the places to get injured, the back is one of the worst. I was texting with a chiropractor friend of mine about Gronk and she said, regarding the surgery, “Very serious…especially for football. Will affect the rest of his life. He might return…but won’t be the same.” That was more than a little disheartening. At some point his injuries have to catch up to him. But maybe Gronk is the kind of freak to come back from a third back surgery and be fine!
I’m Not Worried About the Patriots
Gronk’s eight-week recovery timetable puts his return right around Super Bowl weekend. Even if he does return in time for the Super Bowl, there’s no telling how effective or capable he will be. In other words, Gronk is out for the year.
I’m not worried about this. Would I rather have Gronk healthy? Of course. But I am completely confident in the Pats’ ability to win without him. During the first four games of the season the Patriots were not only without Gronk, but they were without Tom Brady too. They went 3-1. The more the season goes on, the better our receiving corps looks. Julian Edelman is finally starting to turn things around. First-year Pat Chris Hogan is looking solid. Rookie Malcolm Mitchell looks like the first viable deep threat since Randy Moss. James white continues to produce. Dion Lewis looks like he’s recovering nicely. And our other tight end, Martellus Bennett, has 540 yards, 4 TDs, and a 78% catch rate. Not to mention we have Tom Brady who tears defenses apart no matter who is catching his passes.
News of Rob Gronkowski’s back surgery is a bummer. No doubt about it. It’s obviously a bummer to the Patriots, who are chasing their fifth title. But more than that, it’s a bummer because of what Gronk means to football. He is, by far, the greatest tight end to ever play. Gronk is one of the most lovable guys in the NFL, never taking himself too seriously. Rob Gronkowski is arguably the most exciting player in the NFL. If this injury takes a permanent toll on Gronk, the impact will be felt across the NFL.
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