Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Dec 2017

Rob Gronkowski Suspended One Game

The NFL has suspended New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski for one game following his late hit to a prone, defenseless Tre'Davious White during Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills. Gronkowski will miss next Monday night's game against the Miami Dolphins. He has appealed the suspension. Video of the hit is available here.

In my opinion -- and just one person's opinion, not speaking on behalf of Football Outsiders -- this punishment is way too light. White suffered a concussion due to the hit, and is in the league's concussion protocol. By definition, he suffered brain damage. As Chris Nowinski of the Concussion Legacy Foundation noted, if a defender had gone after Tom Brady's knee after the whistle, the suspension would have been far more severe than a one-game suspension.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 04 Dec 2017

240 comments, Last at 12 Dec 2017, 5:04pm by pats-fan-in-nyc


by PatsFan :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:00pm

I'm fully on-board with a 1-game suspension (and he should have been ejected from the game). I'm not on-board with more until the NFL gets their act together on consistency (like Kiki Alonso getting no suspension at all for his head shot on Flacco).

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:09pm

I agree that it is hopelessly non-uniform at this time. What a surprise. To me there are two elements to evaluate, how dangerous the offense is, and whether the offense was in the context of making a play. So a punch, at a helmeted head, after a play gets a game, because it isn't part of a play, while not being especially dangerous. Similarly, a spear to the head out of sloppy technique is very dangerous, but it happens in the context of playing the game, so it also gets one game. Gronk's action combines a lot of physical danger, with being completely outside of an attempt to play the game, so it should have resulted in a multigame suspension. But I agree that it is all a mess at this point.

by duh :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:05pm

I hate that he's appealing the suspension, though I'm guessing that he is being advised to do so by the NFLPA.

by TimK :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:35pm

With you on this. Already said my piece on this when Crabtree and Talib were appealing a week ago. That the NFLPA might encourage appeals on something like this is ridiculous as well.

I kind of like the idea that he should be suspended for one game more than his victim is in the concussion protocol. Given the absolutely flagrant nature of the hit, it can't be described as unfortunate timing, or 'he ducked into me' it was just foul play, looks like a deliberate attempt to injure (it succeeded as if it were), and disappointing to see from any player.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:04pm

I would prefer it if he didn't appeal the suspension. The appeal will take more time than it's worth. The suspension is not going to be removed. Gronk could use the time off, and the Pats can and should handle the Dolphins without him. Also, the issue would leave the media firestorm more quickly if no appeal were ongoing.

by Raiderfan :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:25pm

Amen! I am so tired of the undoing soap operas the media paint so breathlessly. Let it go.

by billprudden :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:06pm

"... if a defender had gone after Tom Brady's knee after the whistle"


To be clear, not endorsing nothin', but curious to see how they respond. The victim is 2/3rds his size, a prized 1st round rookie, ans was as vulnerable as a player can get. He was, literally, face down on the ground, prostrate before an historically-dominant Patriot. It was, in that way, not just a personally cheap shot, but an attack on the whole franchise. Once shit becomes metaphorical, it has a tendency to get real.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:16pm

If what was done by Gronk was only worthy of a game, why on earth shouldn't the Bills use a goon to inflict similar injury on Gronk, by similar means, the next time they meet? Why shouldn't some opponent not do the same to Brady? Because they want to practice altruistic good sportsmanship?

Not, for the 1st time, I don't understand what they think about on Park Ave.

by johonny :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:26pm

The Packers gooned Jim Mcmahon and basically ended the mid-eighties Bears. Jim Burt gooned Joe Montana in a play off game. So it certainly used to happen in the 80s. Why it doesn't happen more is an interesting question, but obviously most NFL players won't intentionally hurt other players no matter how much their asked to.

by rrsquid :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:02pm

Gregg Williams.

by billprudden :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:37pm

What Bills defender is over 30 and probably done anyway?

Or so talented that he can take out Brady, get suspended, and still get 100m + in coming years (a Suh-type circumstance)?

by RickD :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:02pm

Because Gronk didn't start the game headhunting White? Because, while the hit was late, it wasn't intended to cause a concussion?

Why is manslaughter treated differently by the law than first-degree murder? Because it's different.

Oh, and Bernard Pollard did end Brady's season in 2008, without getting punished at all, even though he was violating the Carson Palmer rule. Rather than address the rule violation, the NFL pretended it didn't happen, and even went to the lengths of writing a new rule to play along with the narrative that the hit wasn't illegal.

This is the kind of shit Pats' fans have had to put up with for years.

Oh, also, people encouraging deliberate injury to our star players with the most sophomoric of justifications.


by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:09pm

So is your contention that Gronk is too stupid to grasp that the blow he delivered to the back of the head of a prone player, laying out of bounds,carries with it a reasonable chance of concussion.

Again, this is nuts.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:36am

Gronk might actually be that stupid.

This is the guy who was supplexing people in a bar while his arm was in a cast and acquired a secondary inflection that could have cost him his career. He actually is that dumb.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:30am

Dumb people can require extra efforts in behavior modification, so all the more reason for more than a one game suspension.

by Eddo :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:18pm

Regardless of whether or not Gronk intended to cause a concussion, specifically, he clearly was intending to injure White. There is no other explanation for launching himself into a player lying prone on the sideline.

If you want to bring a criminal analogy into it, if you inadvertently kill someone as part of an armed robbery, you get charged with first degree murder. So if you inadvertently concuss someone while launching yourself into them while they are lying on the sideline, you should get punished as such.

by SandyRiver :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:38am

I'm no lawyer, but I think that situation would be 2nd degree, due to lack of the murder itself being premeditated. I also think that most states allowing capital punishment potentially extend it to murder 2.

If the NFL wanted an example to firm up their discipline for such hits, the Gronk hit would be an ideal test case. However, given their dithering, I see the rather light punishment as no surprise.

by jinman :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:53am

Felony murder is a (morbidly) interesting topic. In most states (only 46 actually have the rule), it actually is treated as first-degree, but the penalty for it usually falls short of death.

by Tundrapaddy :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:57pm

This is the kind of shit Pats' fans have had to put up with for years.

Did you really just write that? 'Eyeroll', indeed.

Yes, the Pats and all their fans are just like the poor, put-upon Irish Catholics, freshly migrated to these shores. Sweet Jesus, man, get some perspective.

I neither cheer for nor against the Pats - they're not one of my teams' rivalries, and frankly, Belichick almost always coaches them into a demonstration of really good football. Even the coach has apologized to the Bills for Gronk's 'performance'. It was dirty, dirty, dirty - that you're trying to defend it speaks volumes about your character as a human being.

by Jimmy Oz :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 8:26pm

"it wasn't intended to cause a concussion"

You keep stressing this point but Gronk's actions aren't a football play, so how are you certain that Gronk didn't intend to hurt/injure?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:38am

"it wasn't intended to cause a concussion? "

And Aaron Hernandez only intended to quiet a witness. What of it?

That Gronk isn't the dirtiest TE in recent Pats history isn't a point in his favor.

by Pottsville Maro... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:56am

So let's run with your premise, that Brink didn't realize that pile driving a player's head into the ground had a chance of injuring him. In that case, Gronk should be suspended not as punishment for his actions, but because he is a danger to other players and too stupid to know how to play the game without injuring them.

by Cythammer :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:12pm

I think perceptions of events like this change massively based simply on who the victim is. For example, some people even seemed to think that the play that injured Aaron Rodgers was dirty. I don't think anyone would have even considered that if it had been DeShone Kizer or some other QB nobody cares about getting injured. In this case, Gronk is a much bigger star than the guy he went after, so he gets off lightly, and most fans are going to be okay with that. Can you imagine if Gronk had done this to a star QB, though? There would be calls for a year-long suspension I bet.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:58pm

There are countless examples of players injuring star QBs without any clamoring for lengthy suspensions by the media or public.

It was less than two months ago that Anthony Barr broke Aaron Rodgers' collar bone. Even though some observers at the time called the hit a cheap shot, there was no clamoring for Barr to receive a lengthy suspension.

(Aside: I'm trying to imagine what circumstances would lead to Gronk making a hit on a QB. Probably would need to replace Gronk with a defensive player to make this hypothetical work.)

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:01pm

But as others said below - those plays were all made during a football game where everyone is moving at blinding speed. I didn't think the Barr hit was dirty btw. Even Brady tearing his acl was made in the heat of a play.

Gronk's was way after the play was over, a guy lying out of bounds face down and he did what he did. How can you even equate the two?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:03pm

Any comparison between Barr's attempt to sack a qb during a pass play, and Gronk's hit on a player lying out of bounds, is pure, unadulterated, unfiltered lunacy. This is nuts, to employ a clinical term.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:23pm

The play reminded me of Ron Artest elbowing James Harden in the head. I would argue I'd rather take a vicious elbow to the head from Ron Artest than get piled drived with an elbow from Gronk while lying face down on the floor.

I honestly think it should have been a multiple game suspension, though I agree, the NFL's suspension and discipline policy is wholly arbitrary and its pretty upsetting.

Also to echo Will - I have to think the lenient suspension will only encourage further gooning.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:54pm

Some terminology: while Gronk's hit was definitely a wrestling style move, it wasn't a pile driver. Nor was it a body slam, which is how ESPN was describing it yesterday.

Definitions matter.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:02pm

I'm not up on my wrestling terminology. I've seen the play multiple times now. It was dirty and disgusting no matter what words we are using to define the physical set of motion.

by runaway robot :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:39pm

This Steeler fan encourages Gronk's appeal. Hopefully the process takes about a week.

by jds :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:12pm

Actually, a "better" result would be if the appeal took 2 weeks. You might then be able to avoid some possible retaliation.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:48pm

Not to excuse Gronk or apologize for him (1 game is too light) but the referee that ignored the holding/PI that happened to Gronk right in front of him should be disciplined as well. In a physical sport if the refs are seen as not enforcing the rules, a non-insignificant portion of players will take the law into their own hands and bad behavior will ensue.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:00pm

Refs get graded on calls after the game and get promoted to do high profile games or not. This happened to Ed Hochuli when he blew the Jay Cutler fumble call in 2006.

That said, I don't believe that missed calls leads to this kind of bad behavior. Gronk's actions were sickening and I lost a ton of respect for him as a player. Btw, I lost what little respect I had for Suh and Haynesworth when they did their crap with the cleats.

by HPaddict :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:05pm

I really do not understand how what you've said is not an excuse. An excuse does not need to completely exonerate; it need only mitigate. And the implication that others' actions contributed is<\strong> mitigation as it suggests that, in the absence of those actions, the guilty party would be more at fault.

Also, Gronk pushed off at the top of his first cut.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:30pm

Gronk is responsible for his behavior and the ref is responsible for his behavior. I did not see Gronk push off (I did not see the whole game, just red-zone highlights). If you run a cash register and leave it open and step away from it and it is robbed you did something wrong, but that does not mean the thief is any less culpable.

by HPaddict :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:45pm

If you run a cash register and leave it open and step away from it and it is robbed you did something wrong, but that does not mean the thief is any less culpable.

If the cash register being open is completely irrelevant to the thief's culpability then mentioning it's state in discussions about the thief's culpability is unnecessary at best and intentionally deceiving at worst. As this particular discussion centers on Gronk's culpability mentioning anyone else's is similarly irrelevant or disingenuous.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:46pm

I feel like we are one comment away from saying - if you don't want to get your head chopped off, don't lie on the floor while nfl players are standing over you.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:38pm

Sorry you think that. But I think the refs behavior is an aspect of the story worth exploring. Why have rules if they are not enforced? Which rules can be broken and which can be bent? If you have impunity how can the law be respected?

by HPaddict :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:21am

Don't apologize; I understand the necessary megalomania of many Pat's fans. Particularly the delusion that an artifact of birth makes you somehow special. But I think pointing out your excuse-making is an important part of the story.

And if you're going to call out rule breaking please point out Gronk's OPI on the play; he clearly and obviously pushed off at the top of his route. But you've already noted that you don't particular care about that rule breaking.

by ChrisS :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:51am

Not a Pats fan. I am not part of the story. I said I did not see it, not that I was uncaring. Ad hominem much?

by RickD :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:52pm

Gronk made as much contact with the defender on the play he was flagged as receivers do all day long, in all games being played in the NFL. Gronk is the only player who gets flagged for this act regularly. It's absurd. For the last three seasons, the Patriots lead the NFL in OPI calls exactly when Gronk is on the field. This is not how the foul was called in previous seasons.
In 2013, no team was flagged for OPI more than 5 times. In 2014, the Rams were flagged 8 times. In 2015, the Pats were flagged 11 times. Last year, with Gronk out, the Pats were flagged only twice. This year they've already been flagged 8 times.

The NFL has changed how OPI is called specifically to diminish Gronk's effectiveness. It's similar to how they changed how DPI was called specifically because Bill Polian got tired of seeing Ty Law intercept Peyton Manning in playoff games.

It's bizarre to see the other owners get the league to change how rules are enforced, just so they have a better chance to beat the Patriots. Though at least that's a defensible stance, as opposed to simply fraudulently misrepresenting scientific evidence in order to rob the franchise of draft picks.

by jtr :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:47pm

If this was part of a vast conspiracy against the Patriots (as the entire rulebook is, apparently), wouldn't they get flagged for OPI just as often when Gronk was off the field? Perhaps Gronk gets flagged for so many OPI's....because he commits a lot of OPI's.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:37am

Good job rebutting the argument you tried to put in my mouth.

My argument was that the NFL changed how it enforced the rules in response to how the Pats were playing. That change has disproportionately hit the Pats because of how Gronk plays.

Try to parse that without inserting language about the officials throwing flags at the Patriots willy-nilly for no reason. Which wasn't part of my point.

by eggwasp :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:04am

Maybe Gronk could play to the rules - just a thought. Or maybe he's just not good enough to catch passes without daring the refs to call OPI on him every play. Didn't see Shannon Sharpe, Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates have to resort to this.

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:15am

That's silly. They, and countless other WRs and TEs, did it nearly every play. Offensive pass interference was barely called in the history of the NFL until about 6 years ago. A receiver basically had to take his defender to the ground to get an OPI call.

by LyleNM :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:06pm

You know what, in most NFL games referees miss an awful lot of callable penalties - particularly holding and PI on both offense and defense. Most players seem to be able to control their emotions well enough to not resort to outright assault. Those that do not (Suh, Gronk, etc.) should be subjected to extremely severe punishments so that maybe they'll engage their brains at a point before their emotions take over.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:44pm

Gronk was being held all game long. Not just on that play. And while the refs let the holding go on by defenders, Gronk himself was called for OPI on a play with minimal contact. Also, when Malcolm Butler tried the kind of defense the Bills were getting away with, he was flagged for it.

The officiating was atrocious.

There's no evidence that more severe punishments accomplish anything other than foster resentment at the arbitrary nature of the system. Figure out what the right punishment is and enforce it. Don't try to make guesses about what motivates players. If Gronk has more episodes like this, the repeat offender rules will kick in for him just like they do for Suh.

by eggwasp :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:09am

So what? Crabtree was being provoked by Talib - doesn't mean he shouldn't get suspended when he starts a fight. How about we just let Patriots fans officiate games instead of the refs?

Maybe each player could decide whether or not they have had enough calls in their favour or against them during the game and decide to meet out summary physical punishment to whichever defenseless players they feel like? That sounds like a great idea. How about we do without refs entirely and just have a big brawl? Sounds like a great sporting spectacle.

by jonnyblazin :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 3:56pm

Rick D, do you have any evidence that Gronk was being held "all game long"? More so than in other games?

I'm curious, what is the rate at which Gronk is held for every play? Was the percentage vs. this Bills game higher?

These are some of the questions I'd ask before making your argument. Is there evidence to support it? Or am I just a stupid homer spouting off nonsense?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:40am


That observation would be relevant if Gronk attacked the ref.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:25am


When ref's are the law and they aren't upholding the law then the players tend to police themselves. Look at the Ramsey-Green, Evans-Lattimore, Crabtree-Talib fights all this season.

You may contest it but if you were being assaulted in front of a cop and the cop didn't step in I'm pretty sure you'd do whatever you felt you could do in your power to make sure that the assaulting stopped, and probably more to make sure that you emphasized that you didn't want it to happen again.

Play outside the rules needs consequences, and without consequences any sense of fairness is lost. Dirty play shouldn't be a part of the game but it tends to be a seen as a necessity by players when they don't think the rules are being upheld fairly.

by TGT :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:46pm

You may contest it but if you were being assaulted in front of a cop and the cop didn't step in I'm pretty sure you'd do whatever you felt you could do in your power to make sure that the assaulting stopped, and probably more to make sure that you emphasized that you didn't want it to happen again.

Just because you would do it, that doesn't mean other people would. Nor does it make it morally or legally right.

Also, if you shot someone lying prone on the ground, you should still be arrested for attempted murder, whether he previously assaulted you or not.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:21pm

Seriously? Why don't you tell me what you'd do in that situation then? You'd just let yourself get beat up? I'm pretty anti-violence in my own life but I really don't have the gall to say one way or the other what I'd do because it's been over a decade since I've been in a fight and I don't know what I'd do. I certainly don't have the moral pride to say people shouldn't defend themselves as you seem to suggest.

And it's a fallacy to say that all self-defense, or all sending a message, needs to be to the scale of murdering someone, an individual can pull short of murdering someone and still be violent/threatening and send a message. It would be like me above saying that your argument above is that you're making the argument that when being raped (sexually assaulted) people shouldn't fight back. I don't think you really understood the logical ramifications of your argument being applied absolutely. And yet that's what the implication of your statement is. Self-defense is fair game. And as I write below, when you impinge on someone's livelihood, someone whose job is to dominate you, and that person is bigger than you, you have to be aware of that at all times during the game.

Football has the stuff going on outside the lines as I've previously said, like when Vince Williams tweeted to Burflict that "I catch Vontez on south beach im painting that boi on sight." Williams later deleted the tweet (pulled from the ESPN article listed below), but he was very real with his disdain and sending a message to Burflict. Not murder but making Burflict think twice about how he plays.

by morganja :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:07pm

The fact that he is appealing, and his comments, prove that he shows no remorse.
This is something the league needs to get control of quickly. Suspending him one game is just asking for major problems. As it is now, there is zero reason for a Bill defender not to break Gronkowski's kneecap in their next meeting.
The potential punishment, a one game suspension for a team out of playoff contention, is not a deterrence.
The professionalism, and basic respect players have for each other, doesn't extend to to a player like Gronk who has already broken that code as about as viciously as it can be broken.
Players taking justice into their own hands is exactly what the NFL doesn't need right now.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:36pm

His comments included an apology that was sincere.

Appealing a suspension has nothing to do with whether he feels remorse or not. He's appealing the suspension because he wants to play football. I would prefer it if he took the suspension. His appeal is a waste of time and I would prefer it to be done with before the Steelers game.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:34pm

It is pretty standard for a helmet to helmet hit to get as 1-game suspension.

The melodrama here is way over the top.

" As Chris Nowinski of the Concussion Legacy Foundation noted, if a defender had gone after Tom Brady's knee after the whistle, the suspension would have been far more severe than a one-game suspension."

Bernard Pollard wasn't suspended even a single game for his illegal hit of Tom Brady that ended his 2008 season.

This is the rule that the NFL enacted after the Carson Palmer hit:

"A rushing defensive player won't be allowed to forcibly hit a quarterback below the knees. He has to make every effort to avoid such a low hit. "

Bernard Pollard hit Brady below the knees. Not only did he make no effort to avoid a lower hit, the way he hit Brady made it impossible for him to hit Brady anyway but below the knees.

In December of 2013, TJ Ward targeted Gronk's knee, a hit which tore his ACL and ended his season and made a serious dent in the Pats' playoff hopes. TJ Ward talked about how it was "necessary" to hit Gronk low, citing the rules against helmet-to-helmet hits.
Given that Gronk is eight inches taller than Ward, this explanation doesn't wash.

In both these cases player deliberately made dirty hits on Patriots that effectively ended their seasons and any Super Bowl hopes. Neither player was suspended.

So, please, spare me the histrionics about how Gronk deserves a larger suspension. Gronk's hit was late but it was not a helmet-to-helmet hit and wasn't directly intended to cause a concussion.
It was a reckless hit and he should be punished for it, but the media-fed outrage of the past 24 hours is not something we ever see when a Patriot is injured, even when the hit is dirty or intentional.

When Danny Trevathan knocked out Davante Adams with a helmet-to-helmet hit earlier this season he got a 2-game suspension that was reduced to one game. Seems comparable to me.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:41pm

Oh, and by the way. In 1978, in a preseason game, Jack Tatum hit Darryl Stingley while the latter was in a defenseless position over the middle of the field. This hit paralyzed Stingley for the rest of his life. Tatum was not punished at all. Stingly died relatively young as a result of medical complications related to his paralysis.

So don't talk to me about how Gronk needs to be punished severely because Pats' fans would want to see a player severely punished when he ends a Patriot player's season, or career even. We've seen many examples where Patriots are injured and no punishment ensues.

by TimK :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:20pm

Fortunately we live in slightly changed times. Hopefully if something like that happened these days something would be done.

I've just gone and watched the clip of the play. It wasn't pleasant to watch. However Stingley was laying out for the ball and Tatum was coming the other way - yes, today it would likely be a suspension, and rightly so in my opinion. It was an excessive by modern standards hit on a player who was diving to catch a ball and so, in today's game, considered defenceless, but I believe back in the 70s still considered fair game. It was certainly fair less egregious _for its time_ than what Gronk did yesterday, despite the tragic consequence.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:45am

Tatum and Stingley are why spearing is illegal at all levels of football. People who couldn't name who they played for have heard of their names and this context.

As far as punishment, 1978 was so long ago in terms of NFL rules that it might as well be pre-history. Bednarick wasn't flagged for knocking Gifford out, either.

\But if Tatum is the name you want to associate with Gronkowski's historical legacy, I'm all for it.
\\It's synonymous with dirty.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 7:59pm

I'm relatively young and only started watching football in the early 90's. I had never heard about this incident.

Bill Tatum may be synonymous with dirty but in reading about him it was obvious to see the juxtaposition of conflicting accounts of the nature of the man.

People talked about how they loved coming to work for the Pittsburgh newspaper and looking forward to Raiders-Steelers week, or the honors for him, or the other safeties that looked up to him, or the awards like All-Pro's etc. And yet Grogan couldn't say anything nice about him upon his death. And there seemed to be a rift between Stingley and Tatum the rest of their lives.

Dirty to you may mean All-Pro to another. Not necessarily one or the other, but both conjoined.

Will Allen has said that suspensions would be just business. To me the policing by players when the refs don't control the game is just the game being itself, extreme athletes looking to play the game the way that earns the accolades and honors.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:45pm

Bernand Pollard was being blocked while trying to tackle Brady. I didn't like the play, but that one is ambiguous enough that we can't be sure if his intent was to tear Brady's ACL.

Also, its hard to tackle Gronk high. Low ensures the tackle. We can debate if its a cheap shot(I think it is), but its not illegal as defined by the rules.

I leave it up to the rest of the commenters to decide if Gronk's actions are way overblown. I saw a guy dive with an elbow at a player's head while he was lying face down on the ground.

If you think there are other examples of Patriot players being unfairly targeted, please bring them up. I also would point out that in 2012, Tom Brady looked like he was intentionally trying to kick Ed Reed in the groin but never got penalized for that.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:47pm

I'm pretty sure Brady was fined for that play.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:48pm

Whoops you are right. Sorry.

by TimK :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:51pm

I'm sorry, but hitting a moving target who is actively playing is very different from hitting a prone target. This was deliberate foul play. Even if no concussion had occurred diving on a prone target who is already out of the play (and the field of play) and leading with an elbow would be considered to be going too far, regardless of where the elbow connected.

Even if there was no leading elbow, it would still be a totally unnecessary impact (in terms of making a play) on a totally defenceless player (in any terms I can think of). If that is not the very definition of 'unnecessary roughness' then I don't know what it.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:42am

My point was that both players broke the rules and injured a player.

That really should be simple.

I didn't say committing a late his is the same thing as hitting a QB low. But both are rules violations.

Can people address the points I actually make instead of inserting false equivalences to make your lives easier?

If your point is that Pollard didn't break the rules, I'm not going to debate that right now.

My main point is that it's ludicrous to argue that Patriots fans should cheer on punishment of Patriots' players in order to protect Patriots from possible illegal hits that might injure Patriots. We've seen illegal hits injure Patriots with no punishments handed down.

by TGT :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:47pm

Both are rule violations, but they're not the same flavor of rule violation... as everyone keeps pointing out to you, and you keep ignoring.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:52pm

If you aren't going to discern between a dangerous act which occurs in the context of making a football play, and one which occurs that has no relationship to playing the game of football, then I don't understand your thinking. What Gronk did was little different than somebody drilling a player during pregame warmups.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:44am

Are we arguing about the application of the rules or not?

You seem to want to indulge in histrionics.

"What Gronk did was little different than somebody drilling a player during pregame warmups."

That's inane. I cannot take this line of argument seriously.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:48am

What's inane is your inability to discern between an action which entails trying to make a football play, and an action which has exactly nothing to do with trying to make a football play. Why you are unable to do this remains a mystery.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:46am

RickD is going through mental acrobatics to excuse an action by a Patriot and you can't figure out why?

by Jimmy Oz :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:52pm

I don't think your analogies hold any weight as the things you've listed were football plays and this wasn't a football play.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:15pm

So this is made no effort? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7aVe_Ge09U

He was trying to get up after being blocked to the ground and he was pushed as he sprung off the ground to attempt to make a tackle on a player who was stepping into him. Even reading the rule I'm not sure it applies.

"A rushing defensive player won't be allowed to forcibly hit a quarterback below the knees. He has to make every effort to avoid such a low hit. "

That rule sounds like it's intended to stop an upright player from diving at the knees/shins/ankles of a QB. Pollards options were to do what he did or simply lie on the ground and not even attempt to make a play. He didn't have time to get fully upright. If he wasn't being actively pushed by the blocker he very well may have hit just above the knee instead of below as well. He made sufficient effort to avoid such a low hit. Is that every effort in the context of playing football. I can be swayed it was not.

If he had been suspended a game based on that rule I would have questioned it, but accepted it because he was in a very grey area. Do I agree that how NFL rules and suspensions are enforced is problematic? Yes, because that is a huge issue. So taking a standard jury standard for normal laws, I'm not positive that Pollard is "convicted" based on that rule. Gronk has no case.

Also there is a difference between in the act of a play and not in the act of a play. There are rules that deal with those differences too. Some calls are "after the play" even. It's a different standard. Even given that there are issues with enforcement and application, Gronk's punishment should be viewed in that regard. Pollard's should be viewed in the light of on the field in the act of making a play.

They are not equivalent. Even if I grant the Pollard call was bad and the enforcement was bad, they are not equivalent.

Gronk's hit was so late that the video shows a teammate of his having time to pull up and reach out a hand to just insure that White was tapped down before Gronk re-adjusts to launch himself onto a prone player and drive his forearm into the back of his helmet. That should be treated with a different standard than someone being actively blocked into someone's knee. That should be treated different than someone diving helmet to helmet at a guy who while wrapped up, wasn't down yet (Trevathan on Adams). I think the Trevathan on Adams should have been a 4 game and would have been OK with that being reduced to 2. Gronk should start at 4 at least as well.

by islandbob :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:12pm

For me it was gruesomely redolent of the Todd Bertuzzi sucker-punch attack on Steve Moore that left him paralyzed. I think it was the application of a massive force on the back of the neck that is so frightening.

by TGT :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:22pm

That's exactly what I was thinking of... But that even happened during a play.

by Jeff M. :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:38am

Yep, I was thinking the same.

For context, the results of that action were:

*17 month suspension (including stopping him from playing abroad during the lockout and from representing his country)

*Criminal charges for assault (one year probation given after plea deal)

*Multimillion dollar civil suit (settled out of court, terms confidential)

Bertuzzi's was very clearly premeditated, though, following Moore around the ice seeking out a fight, while Gronk conceivably acted (horribly and unjustifiably) in the heat of the moment. So maybe we could cut the penalty in half for Gronk--just suspend him until next September, give him six months probation, and have him pay the victim $1 million in damages...

by LnGrrrR :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:53pm

Didn't Bertuzzi continue to punch him after he slumped unconscious to the ice? If so, slightly different case there.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:05pm

Yeah, I'm pretty sure he only stopped when the refs got there. They got there decently quick but yeah, Bertuzzi didn't let up until the ref's stopped him.

by TGT :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:18pm

Gronk's hit wasn't simply "Late." He dropped an elbow on a player lying out of bounds, multiple seconds after the play was over. Heck, Gronk was still on the ground when the play was over. He stood up, took multiple steps to set up, and then attacked. There has been no "play" like it for years. It was simple assault.

by TGT :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:21pm

This was supposed to be a reply to 19. It got confused either by my logging in or the captcha.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:46am

Your language is tendentious.

Your time scales ("multiple seconds" and "years") allow you to say things that are technically true but so vague to be meaningless.

I understand we live in a nation with no long-term memory, but these arguments are not serious.

by TGT :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:56pm

I said "years" because I can't remember a similar play in my 25+ years of football watching. All the examples you've come up with are either (1) not similar or (2) multiple decades in the past.

You have an issue with "multiple seconds"? It looks to me like 2.5 seconds. Plenty of time to not do it. Especially since the play was over while Gronk was STILL ON THE FUCKING GROUND.

That you can't reply to my points does not mean my points are not serious. Nice job ignoring the main point of my argument. That Gronk got up, saw a prone player lying out of bounds, and then decided to hit him.

by pats-fan-in-nyc :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 5:04pm

It wasn't multiple seconds, though. Here's the video I'm going by: https://youtu.be/CgjAN_wgmiI The play is over when Dorsett touches the defender at ~3 seconds. Gronkowski hits the defender at 4 seconds. Gronkowski was already winding up before the play ended. Completely unnecessary, completely deserving of a suspension, but it is not as if he was standing around for multiple seconds after the play then decided to hit the guy.

by James-London :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:40pm

1 game is very lenient given the circumstances. A deliberate attempt to injure a defenseless opposing player outside the flow of the game should be punished harshly. The best parallel I have is eye-gouging in rugby, which usually carries a suspension running into months.

That said, the NFL have only themselves to blame- until they show any consistency around player discipline it's difficult to make a compelling case for punishing Gronk any differently to how other players have been treated.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:57am

I would dispute the claim that the hit was a "deliberate attempt to injure a defenseless opposing player outside the flow of the game".

My main dispute is with "deliberate attempt to injure".

Gronk deliberately hit the guy hard. While many here claim that he landed on White's neck or head, the replay doesn't bear that out. He landed on the back. It was a dangerous hit but it wasn't a "deliberate attempt to injure" anybody.

In contrast, we have defenders making helmet-to-helmet hits on a weekly basis. You excuse these plays because "they are made in the course of play"? You think this hit is worse than TJ Ward targeting knees? I cannot take lines of argument like that seriously.

I am failing to see why this act should be penalized more than a helmet-to-helmet hit of a defenseless receiver or QB. Both involve players who are defenseless. Both are clearly against the rules. Both are reckless.

If anybody thinks the language I am using somehow counts as an "excuse" of Gronk, I don't know what to say. I'm arguing against people saying that this offense is somehow unique and deserves "months" of suspension. That's inane.

The league office actually looks at the video and doesn't rely on talk shows or pundits to tell them what happened in the play. If you watched the game live it wasn't actually clear what Gronk did. The hit looks much worse from a down-the-sideline perspective, which is what this article uses. But the problem with video is that it does not accurately change 3-d pictures into 2-d.

People already decided yesterday what happened and are not going to let facts change their first impressions. I got really tired of dealing with this phenomenon during the fake punishment of Tom Brady.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:07am

Rick, I think you need to watch the video again and specifically the one from behind Gronk, on the stands/bench side. Specifically the left forearm.

I think I lean basically as far to "understanding" why Gronk would do this on this site but I still think it was an intent to injure.

I mean, he can't even say he was trying to tag him down as i) he was out of bounds, and ii) Dorsett just tagged White down.

The play was definitely deserving of suspension

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 10:49pm

"The play was definitely deserving of suspension"

He's not saying it wasn't.

The constant strawmanning is why this whole argument looks so ridiculous

by ssereb :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:42am

Well golly. If the intent wasn't to injure, what was the intent?

by TGT :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:03pm

I am failing to see why this act should be penalized more than a helmet-to-helmet hit of a defenseless receiver or QB. Both involve players who are defenseless. Both are clearly against the rules. Both are reckless.

Maybe the problem is that you keep ignoring all the evidence in both the video and people's arguments that lean against your point? This "play" had nothing to do with football. A miss of a few inches in the heat of play is understandable. It's illegal, and gets punished, but it's not the same as this straight up assault.

But the problem with video is that it does not accurately change 3-d pictures into 2-d.

Seriously? What it accurately depicts is a player getting up, seeing a player lying out of bounds, and slamming into his head. You don't need 3-D to see any of that.

by andrew :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:42pm

My initial thought was he should be suspended for however long Tre'davious White is out for, at least.

But such a policy would not make sense where a scrub could take out a star player and their relative impacts be vastly different.

Trying to adjust for salary gets into ridiculous territory... maybe just have it as a minimum.

by James-London :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:53pm

The rule Dr Z advocated. You hurt someone, you sit for as long as they do. Great from a natural justice point of view; problematic when the guy you just called up from the practice squad goes at the knees of an All-Pro QB...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:19am

Even a rule like that could be abused, as your example shows.

When Bernard Pollard took out reigning MVP Tom Brady, there was no way those scales could be equalized.

I would say, though, that in the current case it would be more fitting for Gronk to miss the game against Buffalo in two weeks than to miss the Dolphins game. Surely at this point in the season, Buffalo's interests are not served by having Gronk miss a game that the Bills would likely want to see New England win. They cannot really catch the Pats, but are in close contention with the Dolphins for a possible wild card.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:30am

That's a very interesting idea.

I wonder if that could be a part of the appeal.

by Richie :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:47pm

hahaah that's funny. The Dolphins competing for a wild card? lol

(I'm a Dolphins fan.)

by James-London :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:59pm

The NFL should have rough & ready categories- 1 game for x, 3 games for y.

An example schedule might be: Helmet-to-helmet automatic 1 game, contact with an official 1 games,fighting, 2 games, what Gronk did 4 games, throwing a puch at an official 8 games. You mileage may vary as to what actions carry what length of ban, and whether a player with "previous" is treated more harshly.

You'd then need an agreed and consistent appeal process, which is what every other professional sports league has. In an NFL context, that probably means it all has to be collectively bargained, so it's almost certainly not going to happen.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by morganja :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 7:48pm

What is it about Patriot fans that they will excuse/ignore/deny even the most clearly despicable behavior by their team?
Honest question. One would think that winning so much would give them a less virulently reactionary response to every perceived slight. One would understand Cleveland fans clinging desperately to delusional interpretations to protect what little there is to enjoy in their football fandom. But Patriot fans?

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:16am

Withdrawing my earlier comment as I see at least one other Patriots fan has gone beyond the points I was making.

"Die Welt dreht sich nicht um dich, Rick".

by Jimmy Oz :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 7:08pm

Interesting that, as far as i can gather, you've come at it from the 'Well Gronk never meant to hurt him' and Rich has come at it from 'Well White had that hurt coming to him'

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 7:30pm

Pretty much.

Not that I advocate for this kind of thing in normal life. And not that I'm advocating for it in sports either. (I definitely mis-typed when I said he deserved it, it was meant to be phrased as a question)

I'm more so describing a phenomenon than defending it.

by Alternator :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 8:02pm

This seems pretty simple to me.

Gronk has neither the reputation as a dirty player, nor a long history of being fined/suspended for cheap shots. Thus, one game for a first offense, regardless of what the offense was. Right or wrong, that's how the NFL has been handling it in the past, and likely will continue to handle it in the future.

by Rich A :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 8:54pm

So I very rarely post but I felt like chiming in on this one.

I'm a pats fan, so much that I run the Pats fan group in Winnipeg (Because Belichick, not Brady).

I feel like RickD has some basis for his statements because Hack-a-Shaq is definitely what happens to Gronk. He gets held and clutched more than any other player in the league. So the OPI thing is definitely real and the reffing yesterday was somewhat biased (not too bad though). He can't separate in a normal route running way because he is so often held - like full on lineman holds but more than 5 yards down the field. Does he sometime draw some of it - yeah, I'd say regularly he does bump, but stemming a route is different than shoving, and for the most part I don't think he shoves the way that's he's nearly always held.

But at the same time, I think Rick D is overblown with his defense of this particular situation. Gameplay and outside of play are different and this was clearly outside of play.

The reffing, while not great, wasn't an excuse for the act of savagery. And that's what it was. Although I do buy it as an excuse.

I'm not sure how many of you have played at a college or state level but at that level you almost aren't thinking while playing - you're reacting to training and reacting from an instinctual place. So I do buy it as an explanation - although the self control necessary in that situation was completely lacking. And self-control is definitely necessary in football.

I echo the sentiments that the NFL doesn't have consistency on the issue, as well as all the problematic ways to try to enforce targeting.

To me the more interesting conundrum is what a player like Gronk, or Shaq, or Gretzky does in these situations. In the NHL the rise of Gretzky also then coincided with the rise of the enforcer (although fights has normally been a part of the pro game - but not the international game). The NBA changed the rules eventually to protect Shaq from unfair treatment. And in the NFL, it seems like QB's get more protection but the protection of players is the very paradox of the game.

I'm going to say something very absurd. I think White deserved it. You mess with someone you best be ready for the consequences - no matter the context. If it's high school sports and the refs aren't calling your fouls, watch out outside the lines, be that in the parking lot or whatever. Play to the rule and if you beat someone then they can be upset they were beat fair and square. Play outside the rules then expect to be treated in a way outside the rules. (As a former lawyer I found that accused individuals didn't harbor resentment against prosecutors - they're just doing their job and are a part of the system. But I also know family lawyers that have had mail-bombs take off their hands because they messed with dissolving family situations). This is the real world, White should've known that he was frustrating Gronk and he was in an extremely precarious spot. Yes, the rules dictate that Gronk should've seen that he was out of bounds. Sorry, deal with it - he got what was coming.

So is 1 game about right? I think so. I thought he'd get 2 and appeal down to 1. So yeah, suspend him, go through the soap opera of will it be vacated (it won't be). But if the NFL doesn't want this kind of thing they got to get refs that know how to keep things under control.

To me players that are dirty develop that reputation and all players adjust accordingly. The either work out more or they travel in packs on the field, or they highlight to the ref (I can't stand the way Brady whines)(I also can't stand how fans in general expect refs to be fair - they're human - this is the game outside the game), they do what they do to protect themselves. Yeah, the Bills will complain about dirty play.

To me this is the converse of Deion Sanders "business decisions". Sometimes you don't tackle in a certain way to protect yourself and long term health. Was this a business decison from Gronk? I don't think so, I'm not sure if he was calculating that he was sending a warning to other teams and knew he could sit the Dolphins game. I would be really intrigued if it was a business decision from him? "Hey, let me do my job and you do your job but do it properly, no clutching".

So I echo pretty much everything most people have already said - but it's not so interesting to me how things play out, but rather what's interesting is the intersection between the ideas of the savagery, rules allowing it, and the limits of it.

This is the NFL, it's savage and based on power and strength and speed and it's not for long, and that's why I played and watch football. If you don't want to occasionally see someone winded from taking a shoulder to chest, or broken arms, or busted knees, or concussions; go watch basketball. (I've had those happen to me, except the blown knee)

To me this is a wake up call for White, welcome to the league, there's the rules that are written and the unwritten ones (And yes, I think Buffalo will go low on Gronk next game and maybe a bit next year too, just like Denver did for a few years).

I was also really interested with what Micah Hyde had to say. His comments were that it was dirty - because look at the score. It'l almost like he was insinuating that if it had been a closer game then it would've been more justifiable.

(This whole thought of mine came about thinking about the hockey comment from above and the nature of fallible refs)

(Also, Steve Moore should've taken the fight on like a man, Bertuzzi gave him plenty of chances to step up - if you're going to forecheck someone from behind and the next game he wants to drop the gloves, you drop the gloves, you don't dance around. This is sports. Either play the game that exists alongside the game or suffer the fact that vengeance is something that people regularly look for)(Not saying I advocate for Bertuzzi, but that often times you can't predict other peoples desire for retribution and what they're willing to do for it)

(Also, I typically play a very clean game, I don't need any injuries affecting me in my day job)

by Cythammer :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 8:57pm

You're right, that was absurd, and even crazier than the tripe RickD keeps posting. White, in committing penalties against Gronk, is at most playing slightly outside of the rules. He wasn't playing dirty, and did not attempt to physically harm Gronk. An appropriate response from Gronk would be to bend the rules himself, not to violently assault White in an extremely dangerous way.

by Rich A :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 9:12pm

Well, to me it's not so absurd because it makes complete sense in the sense that people actually behave this way in normal life.

People don't just stop feeling wronged or frustrated when they're consistently hacked or accused or whatever. $89 mill from the league and the players want more commitment to the actual injustices of racial disparity (*as a Canadian I only have a vague idea of what it's like in the south). Now $89 mill is a chunk of coin but it doesn't fix the matter.

That's why the hold needed to be called, because without it there's no sense of reparation. The pick isn't taken away. Neither are all the holds. And without catches or TD's it affects Gronk's pay.

White playing outside the rules, just barely as you put it, still needed to be called, and it wasn't. People when faced with perceived injustices tend to take those matters into their hands eventually (note, I said "perceived", this is a game that people make money playing, and they would do well to remember that - injustices in reffing are not nearly the same as true injustices).

I do want to stress though that I'm not a vindictive person myself. This is more of an explanation rather than a justification. In no way do I think Gronk's actions were condoned, and I also believe the suspension should've probably been 4 games and not reduced on appeal. It's a tough issue, how long to suspend someone that injures another player.

There's all sorts of laws about consent to injury in games - and being fouled is a normal part of the game. And then so are the suspensions etc. Gronk cannot be considered to have assaulted White because these "outside the game" things do happen from time to time and by putting on the helmet you consent to them.

As someone that plays clean myself I don't see a different between bending and breaking a rule. Although I think it would've been more suitable for Gronk to pile drive White on the next running play or something if he were to be bending/breaking a rule, much like he threw Sergio Brown out of the club against the Colts.

(I also don't believe Gronk to be clean or dirty, he plays to the opponent, if they're playing tough but clean he plays clean, but if they're clutching he's going to chop or shove more - hence the necessity of refs that keep control of a game well)

by BJR :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:41pm

If the Bills had been targeting Gronk with late hits, or other acts which may have endangered his safety, and the refs had failed to intervene, then a cheap shot retaliation would have been understandable and somewhat justifiable from a moral standpoint. At worst, the Bills were subtly interfering with Gronk trying to run routes and catch the ball. The retaliation was completely uncalled for, and against any ethical code. Had such an act occurred at an amateur event, he could have indeed expected a posse of opponents to be waiting for him in the parking lot after the game.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:19am

I think you're making my point for me.

You're saying that things inside the game have a level of ethics to them that's understandable. Gronk's action wasn't wrong so much because it was retaliation as it was about the severity of his retaliation, and to me that makes for flimsy distinctions. And this makes me point back to the refs. Small fouls adding up to a big foul. Or Small fouls leading to more small fouls (Amendola in the game both congratulated Hyde for his jarring on time hit across the middle early in the game but late in the game on the pick/Gronk-slam Amendola ripped the helmet off of another Buffalo player).

To me I think the major distinction happens between amateur events and pro events in that pro athletes are financially implicated by their performances. It's their health AND their earning ability. Although it's probable that health is the more important of the two.

When a player is playing outside the bounds of the rules, and it's not being called, and that's then making it harder to hit contract incentives, then it becomes ethically problematic for the refs to control the game and understandable that retaliation would happen (in some sort, a justified retaliation looking like appealing to the referees, or an unjustified retaliation looking like the cheap shot that took place).

I'm not sure how you can say at an amateur event their is a tie between on field/near game events and everything else that happens outside of the game, and that same relationship doesn't exist where people are earning livelihoods.

To me football, which does consist of what would normally count as assaults, is predicated upon encouraging the strongest and biggest and fastest the ability to impose their will via force to accomplish a goal. That goal is supposed to be scoring more. And it's supposed to be moderated by referees, but when the referees aren't moderating it, than I don't think it can be surprising that these things happen from time to time.

And just to add on the disclaimer: this isn't how I act personally, but I definitely see that the world operates this way, just like you put forward in your comment.

by BJR :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:14am

I really didn't want to get into a long debate on the ethics of behaviour on a football field, which are obviously undefined and subjective, so I regret making my comment.

If a player is engaging in subtle attempts to impede an opponent, I believe there is a clear distinction between choosing to respond in kind (or by some other non-violent means), and choosing to respond by cheap shotting them outside the field when they are utterly defenceless. You do not, so we'll leave it at that.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:14am

Subtle attempts to impede an opponent are part of the rules generally. Hence the 5 yard jam zone. Hence the legality of rub routes. But also hence the rules about holding, DPI (OPI as well), and downfield contact. None of those rules were actually upheld the way they were supposed to on the play in question.

To me the issue wasn't so much Gronk's stem and subtle push or White's subtle hold just after. That subtle hold by White was "cheating the right way" as another poster defines it, as was Gronk's stem. What was egregious is that the ball was in the air after the next break to move vertically down the field and White basically pushes Gronk further downfield so that he can stop his momentum to make the adjustment to make the pick. This both puts Gronk out of the play and awards an undeserved interception. White knew that he was going to get posterized again like he did a quarter earlier if he just played straight up and so he instead made a decision to foul to make the play and challenge the refs to make the call. And Gronk was dumbfounded that his right to make plays on the ball wasn't being protected - as was the norm in this game. Emphasis on DUMB, because the act was dumb.

I also regret writing what I wrote because it wasn't accurate to my thoughts. I meant to write "maybe White deserved it?" in my post but it came out as "White deserved it!".

Although I do tend to think that players need to understand that if they're getting away with things that tends to catch up to them around the game. While not a defined part of the game in the same way as hockey, stuff happens outside the play semi-regularly. "Respond in kind" - so suplex White during a live play? To me yes, there's very little difference between before the whistle and after the whistle when the game polices itself and you're foulding or when bad blood is developed. Look at Talib-Crabtree, or Evans-Lattimore, or Green-Ramsey. That the incidents here involve rookie or first contract players is noticable (Ramsey, Lattimore, White), this is their introduction to the game. Even if you can get away with things you probably shouldn't as the game will tend to police itself eventually.

You can either live like an invincible young man with the consequences of the game generally policing itself at a point (as well as the risks associated with making naive decisions like context doesn't have to be considered - as has come up in another particular thread of my original post) or you can not be naive and police yourself first and not get into these situations, or you can cope by others methods such as travelling packs etc (hence the fact that players fighting usually leads to other players stepping in). Or the ref's could actually call an even game.

To me it regularly stuns me that on this site there's little grasp of the intimidation factors that defenders use and that offense not only is about route running and execution but showing the defenders that you're not going to be intimidated, and that you will make your rights known and push back when they're being infringed upon. It also stuns me that people are projecting my explanation as my personal position when I'm constantly reiterating that I do NOT believe that games SHOULD be this way but I am certain that they ARE this way.

And FYI, part of the reason I rarely post and yet am posting this time is because to me most bad reffing is bad in a mistake filled way or didn't see it sort of way, to me the reffing in this game seemed to entail willful blindness on the part of the refs to how Gronk was being held on a somewhat regular basis. When ref's are coached to examine certain players closer than others it begss for this kind of thing. And very often refs are told to watch Gronk more, by the league. Heck, I think letting them play a bit more can be done but it needs to be done very evenly and have a very clear point of moving into foul territory - and this game in particular stood out to me as having very little evenness to it. To me it comes across very much that these transcendent talents; Evans, Talib, Green, Gronk, are sick of the league letting others have a different set of rules when playing against them. Well, maybe not Talib, he's just wanting to piss Crabtree off and intimidate him, and generally he's pushing the bounds of being an intimidator after the whistle pretty regularly - I don't blame Crabtree for fighting back - although the punches later on after the scuffle were pretty uncontrolled.

And to me, this isn't ideal, but this isn't about ideal. Everyone's posting in reply to me is projecting what the ideal should be. I think before we get to understanding what the ideal is and how to get there we have to understand what the reality is, and the reality is that players, not just Gronk - but certainly Gronk in this case - are often starting to go beyond the refs and that the refs are losing control of the games.

I think we're always going to have players pushing the boundaries to deal with talents they can't or don't want to deal with straight up, but that's why refs are needed and that's why they need to do their jobs effectively and enforce the small things to the letter of the rule. Most people aren't like me and play a very clean game - they're looking to play at the very limits (I also fully admit that while a decent talent I often ending up playing below my peak performance because of this tendency - and this led to less competitive results on my end - but I wouldn't play dirty myself and so was eventually cut). This is what happens when little stuff is let go - little compromises with the rules lead to big oversteps. The league really needs to develop proper rules around the handfighting in the game - be that Receiver/Secondary play or line play. The current rules just aren't actually descriptive enough about the subtleties of actual game anymore.

by Rich A :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:45pm

Also, three things,

I said I thought 1 was about right, but I also said 4 would be good. That discrepancy is real in the sense that I don't really know how wrong I think the act was.

Also, I just reread a error with my typing:
"The reffing, while not great, wasn't an excuse for the act of savagery. And that's what it was. Although I do buy it as an excuse." Should be I do buy it as an explanation.

If you think what I'm saying is tripe than you weren't here back in 2006 when Rich Conley was posting. He was unhinged.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:14am

If you want to dispute a point I make, feel free. If you decide not to, but instead indulge in name-calling, I figure it's because you feel ad hominem is the only way to score points.

by Alternator :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 9:34pm

I'm also a Patriots fan, and you're conflating White having caused Gronk's frustration boiling over (which is clearly true), and White having deserved being dived on (which is clearly false). If Gronk had given White a late shove that sent him flying, then you could argue the shove was justified, on "What did you expect?" grounds, but he didn't. Gronk decided to dive on a guy, who was out of bounds and had no reason to be expecting an impact.

Don't be reverse-morganja and try to pretend that it was justified.

by Rich A :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:13pm

I'm Canadian, as I've already mentioned, and as Sbond in the open weekly thread states, there's clearly the game outside/alongside the game.

I think it was a comment in the other thread that said explanation =/= excuse. That's where I'm at.

I think it was heinous act that deserves suspension. I also think there was a thought process that explained it and that thought process can be understood, and then changes can be made.

As Sbond said, the chief sin of a ref is losing control of the game, and this game got out of control. And as someone else said, more than one person can be at fault.

The refs screwing up doesn't absolve Gronk's culpability for his own actions.

Also, as I've said before, I play clean, and to me there's no difference between breaking a rule and bending one. It's all infractions. To me, if you know you're going to commit a foul, it makes sense to both a) try to get away with it (as another poster said, it's about knowing how to cheat - which is absurd to me), or b) to alter the game by taking a player out.

To me I don't think Gronk was considering and appreciating all of that and he was just reacting, which I think does go more with his love-able frat boy meat head persona more. It's certainly not like he was Burflict, or Suh, or off the field like Marvin Harrison, Ray Lewis, or Aaron Hernandez.

*** Edit: As Gronk's contract is tied to future performance when he is fouled it creates off the field ramifications for him. I think a chain can be drawn from fouls in the game damaging him financially outside the game - hence I talk about the game alongside the game. And really this is true for all people. Hence, you say that I can't draw a line between White's fouling of Gronk and real damage, but I can. And thus, when a player who is smaller, or disadvantaged in whatever way, wants to play and clutch and hold, I think a larger player either needs to have the refs in his corner or the the smaller player should know he's asking for it. I don't think asking for it is the same as deserving it, but when people's livelihoods are at stake you kind of have to consider it. White could've made a business decision to play less physical - take less money on his next contract - and not risk this. I know people who would pay to have Connor MacGregor punch them out, or wish they could get in the ring and make a part of the money, but they're not in the same ballpark. Hence normal people don't play football against pro's - they work normal jobs. To me the game isn't just between the lines, not when there's contracts and incentives on the line. Hence the refs need to police this.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:00pm

Here's a suggestion. When a really absurd thought crosses your mind, don't communicate it with the rest of the world, lest you become known as a person who puts forth absurd ideas.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:08pm

Wuill Allen- are you refeffing to Rich A writing this, "I'm going to say something very absurd. I think White deserved it."

I did not read his giant block of text yet (wjll later) but saw that sentence (stuck out as was start of a paragraph and noticed it whil e scrolling}. Found it extyremely odd. Like how could anyone defend Gronkowski? Gronkowski didn't even defend himself after gam e. Realized he was giant tool bag goon on play.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:42pm

"I'm going to say something very absurd. I think White deserved it."

I was stopped dead in my tracks when I read this line. I read the rest of his post very calmly, but still flabbergasted.

I don't mean to start a straw man argument, but when I read that, I remembered all the crazy provisos I've read about victims of abuse and drive by shootings. "Well, if they'd been more careful with their words or not been out at 2am..." Not to get into my own personal backstory, but I heard these same provisos from a family member no less. It didn't work then.

So its White's responsibility to not provoke Gronk, lest he do something stupid since hes a big dude with a big temper? This is still football right?

I'm frankly really amazed at all the after the fact explanations. " HE was frustrated with the refs, the players grab him, hes a big angry dude, he didn't really mean to hit him in the head...lots of violence in football etc etc."

The point is - White ended up with a concussion, Rob did it well after the whistle, and it was so egregious that neither he nor his coach offered bs rationalizations after it was done.

I think its telling that both he and BB recognized right away how gruesome and unnecessary it was.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:07am

I think a lot of people are reading my comment as a validation when it's not. Hence my use of the subject line and the question mark.

And yes, I do believe that people that put themselves into higher risk situations often encounter those risks. 50 years ago a person was told to look both ways before crossing the road, to not fall in with the wrong crowd, to not go certain places at night. And now we've got people complaining that they were hit when they walking out in the street, or blaming their friends, or believing they can go anywhere and not have any other associated risks.

To me a person can both be wrong (Gronk's act), and understood as having a justification (albeit a poor one). What else was Gronk doing but rationalizing it after the fact when he talked about his frustrations with the reffing and fouling during the game? I'm sure Buffalo was coached to clutch as much as they reasonable could get away with.

To me it's White's responsibility to play within the rules, and he wasn't doing that. Anything past that is extra-curricular and not condoned. At the same time things happen outside the game all the time. For an example see above - the comment above basically validated that things inside and around the game affects things outside the game. So a cheap shot associated with the game but after the whistle could instigate a parking lot brawl. Is it that absurd to think that repeated fouling within the game may have instigated a dumb cheap shot after the whistle?

Like Sbond, or another poster said in Audibles: I've never seen a fracas break out where the refs haven't been letting them play.

I can believe Gronk was wrong and simultaneous that the refs were wrong and simultaneously believe that White was wrong. Like I've said, I play clean. When you don't play clean this is the kind of crap this is more likely to happen all around.

Does this prompt the league to look at how ref's are calling fouls against Gronk and see if he's being treated unfairly? I think it's definitely a priority for the league to have some standards in place for this but I think it would also make sense to expand targeting to not just targeting for roughness but also clutching - bringing back the emphasis that the Colts asked for in 2004 after the 2003 playoffs.

by Rich A :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:21pm

Will, as a lawyer, do you really see what I put forward as that absurd?

The first day of law school I was told to separate legality and morality and decided to leave the practice of law because I couldn't separate them. I don't know if you actually separate them but to me this seems like a case study on it.

To me it seems like you use Gronk's apology as admission of culpability but then he clearly also gives his explanation. And you don't explore that at all. Am I not simply extending that framework to the fullness of those ideas?

Also, I'm not advocating for them so much as I'm just describing what the real world is like - or is the world not like this, with people never needing lawyers because they always just own up to their faults, they never need to enforce their own rights outside what the original contract included?

I guess I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on how this compares to the Bertuzzi-Moore incident. I believe that case ended up being settled after Moore did try to defeat the consent to risk laws. How do you think that incident shaped future rules around fighting, how players thought about fighting, and what players thought about what they consented to on the ice.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:31pm

I don't give any thought whatsoever to his apology. I don't care about his remorse, if I have an economic interest in the NFL. What I care about is that no idiots harm my interests by engaging in behavior like that. I thus would figuratively hang those that did, with 8 to 16 game suspension, in an effort to clearly communicate that loss of temper does not in any way mitigate how I view harming my interests by actions like that. It isn't personal.

by Rich A :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:48pm

You don't see the very paradoxical nature that the NFL is popular because of it's legislated violence and that it'll somewhat spill over as something worth exploring?

Or you don't see that big violent players like Gronk that are extremely dominant, and occasional crossing lines as good for the bottom line? Without players like Gronk, or Burflict, or the injuries or violence the game would not be nearly as popular. The league if it wants to increase revenue should stop making the game safer and start making it more savage (again, if it only cares about its bottom line, to me it's got a good mix of safety and violence). I know many people want to see more violence and the hits across the middle leaving people paralyzed, which to me is way beyond the pale for what's entertainment.

I read most of the discussions on here and so I've often appreciated your insights but I guess I'm just a bit at a lost that you don't have more response regarding consent, or the space that these games take in acting alongside normal law and suspending it - or the bluring of that then (with the Bertuzzi case being a specific point for comparison), or even how Deion Sanders talked about business decisions regarding tackling, and how that seems to imply a level of self-awareness on the field regarding the blurring between self interests and team interests. Which leads me to also think about the nature of contract provisions and the difference between being locked up early like Gronk vs hired guns such as Revis.

I guess I was just expecting more from everyone on here. That's one of the things that often stuns me about this site, football's talked about like a math, not a competition, and sports statistics is about both.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:55pm

Sure, I see the paradox, and that's why, from a business perspective, it becomes all the more important to not tolerate that which runs contrary to the business model. The biggest threat facing the business is declining participation rates among young people. Stuff like Gronk's behavior, which has exactly nothing to do with playing the game, is harmful, and helps the business not at all. Thus, it should be eradicated.

by Rich A :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:08pm

To me I think we have different understandings of why the league has any appeal.

Everyone that I know that enjoys the NFL wants more violence in the game and any dilution of that makes them want to turn it off. It drives them away. And the suspensions and extra grudges and stuff is just more pageantry. The rest of the people I know that don't watch the NFL never will watch the NFL, the violence of the game just isn't there thing. I think the only thing that would make me stop watching is terrible officiating if they can't get the rules sorted out.

To me an emphasis on safety, too many games spread throughout the week, and the rise of video games are causing the decline. I don't really think things like Gronk's bodyslam/shiv cause people to stop watching. The people that don't watch won't ever watch, and watering the product down will just drive more away.

Also, the growth of the league is totally unsustainable. I mean, I think it could branch out but it would need to develop an actual governing body and develop minor leagues, much like FIFA does. And that's not the way the NFL is going about things.

But that's a whole different conversation.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:16pm

You really didn't read what I wrote.

by Rich A :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:36pm

Well, businesses need a market? So I was talking about the market?

I'm sure more there to your point but I'm not sure what it is.

Although I do think we disagree about the business model. To me part of the product is the violence itself.

Are you implying that it's necessary to take any illegitimate uses of the consent to violence extremely seriously? I would agree with that, but for integrity of the game reasons, not because it actually impacts the business model.

I'm not trying to be disagreeable, I'm sincerely trying to understand what I missed.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:08am

Just read the words I wrote. The biggest long term threat to the business is declining rates of young people playing the game. Parents have a very large influence on a young person's decision to play the game, and having players concussed, via actions that have nothing to do with the competition, will cause nontrivial numbers of parents to discourage participation. Again, it's not complicated. The particular kind of violence Gronk displayed is bad for business, does nothing to help business, and thus should be eradicated. I don't know why it is so hard to grasp that some elements of football violence, like Gronk breaking a tackle, can be good for the business model, even if they carry with it some risk of injury which doesn't help, while other types of football violence are nearly entirely bad for business, and that humans with three digit I.Q.s can manage a business in a way that promotes an aspect of a phenomena which helps the business, while severely discouraging that aspect of a phenomena which harms the business.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:36am

Okay. I understand your point. I just disagree.

To me the league just has unrealistic projection growths. As long as there's fantasy there will be watchers. And if there are watchers then there will be revenue and players.

No one cares about where each person grew up, they only care if it helps them earn their fantasy pot.

As long as there's revenue there will be people wanting to play, and for a variety of reasons. I don't really think it'll hurt football that much if most suburban people stop playing as long as they continue to play fantasy.

To me fatigue of constant news and games is more likely to turn people off. Although yeah, long term, in 40 years or something if people stop playing real football then maybe fantasy will collapse. I think it's hard to say if it'll collapse in the next 10-15 years though.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:44am

I think it is a gigantic error to manage a business like the NFL with a horizon of only 10-15 years. Really huge. I also think it is a gigantic error to think the injury issue will only affect suburban rates of participation.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:44am

I think it is a gigantic error to manage a business like the NFL with a horizon of only 10-15 years. Really huge. I also think it is a gigantic error to think the injury issue will only affect suburban rates of participation.

by ChrisLong :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:31pm

I think I don't want to know your friends. I don't like the egregious violence of the game, I like the strategy and the athletes and the spectacle. The constant injuries detract significantly from the viewing experience both because I feel for the players who get injured and because of all the great players who get injured and therefore I can no longer watch them play.

by Rich A :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:39pm

So why not watch The Internationale instead or LoL or Overwatch or CSGO. Or even competitive chess. I don't have time for it all but I do try to catch the occasional DOTA match in the Internationale finals.

Or to stick with sports, why not watch basketball?

There's lots of avenues for appreciating complex team work within a multi-faceted game that doesn't include football.

If they're social reasons then I would suggest to you that your friends maybe appreciate the violence more than you might grasp.

by ChrisLong :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:54pm

Well, if you must know:
-I'm the only one of my friends that really truly follows football out of pure enjoyment of the game. Others follow for fantasy football purposes or for gambling, but not out of rooting interest or because they enjoy watching.
-Football is the only one of the major sports with such a diverse cast of athletes, and that also has constant stops and starts where strategy can be adjusted. Basketball, hockey, and soccer are much more free flowing, limiting the true execution of coordinated action by all of the players on a consistent basis. Basketball has plays on offense but the defense can only have so many varieties of man to man or zone. I like those sports but not as much as football.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:03am

I'm sure you've already heard of it but I would highly recommend smart football by Chris Brown. As well as his recommended books.

Also, I just started reading Every Play Revealed Vol II - Patriots Seahawks Superbowl Analysis by Alex Kirby. Amazing reading so far.


by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:42am

i also watch football forenjoyment of action and strategy. watching running backs carry ball is oen of best things. also passes thrown more than 15 yards downfield. Interceptions.

Hitting and "kill shots" and roughing passers- much, much further down list. don't need any of that for enjoyment.

not as interested in basketball or golf or tnenis or hocket.

I big fan of baseball

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:49am

I take the view that you can only appreciate the offensive plays by respecting the defensive plays and players

I don't think you'd enjoy an NFL team break off 50 yard TD runs or long bomb passes against a Pop Warner Team. It's not impressive. It's only impressive within the context of a team of equals or betters even who are doing everything to stop them.

Similarly, it's a whole lot more impressive to score lots on the Ravens or Jaguars this year than to score lots on the Browns or Clots.

Sure, maybe you prefer offense but I think a lot of people have a personal preference for defense.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:01am

What does any of that have to do with driving your body into the back, neck, and head of a player who is lying face down, out of bounds?

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:20am

My comment wasn't directed at anything to do with Gronk.

I believe it's properly nested as a reply to Raiderjoe's comment about killshots, roughing the passer, defense generally.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:09pm

Not suer I actually wrote I prefer offense. I like watching RBs operate. i also like watching defenses harness opposing RBs. I like passes being thrown down the field. also noted interceptiosn.

not an Arena football fan due to high scoring and n ot much defense.

i like proper form takcles. not interested in helmet ot helmet shots on unsuspecting opponents. not interested inm guys elbowing opponents to back of head after pl;ays are over

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:49pm

You didn't write that you preferred offense, more so that you didn't like defense intimidation and the extracurricular roughness.

I know you've been watching the game for a while, what did you think of Deacon Jones when he started doing the helmet slap? Not what you think now, but what did you think of it back when he started doing it? Was it cheap, was it progressive and great, did you right away think it should have been outlawed?

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 7:20pm

never had problem with headslap. opponent can see the other guy looking to take that action. can understand, though, why ti is not allowed anymore.

Not interested in having to explain my viewpoints, past or current on sll sorts of infracitons so will share in this way (and believe I already did()- not interested in garbage after a play is over (Gronkowski action on Sunday), or unnecessary helmt-to-helmet shots, hitting defenseless players (Warren Sapp vs Chad Clifton). etc

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:52am

"You don't see the very paradoxical nature that the NFL is popular because of it's legislated violence and that it'll somewhat spill over as something worth exploring?"

All sports are legislated violence.

Yes, even chess.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:18am

I skimmed the link you posted.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be seeing. I didn't see anything in there about a fight or anything. Although I did see that Fischer was contesting the format of the event and hence made claims that the FIDE games were not actually won since they weren't to his choice format. Is that what you were referring to?

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 1:41pm

Plato considered all sports to be preparation for war. In that sense your suggestion may be correct, but no one got injured when I played chess against a good player lately and got massacred. The massacre is a metaphor.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:06am

"Gameplay and outside of play are different and this was clearly outside of play."

No shit. I never said anything different.

"I'm going to say something very absurd. I think White deserved it."

I note that this is not what I am arguing about. I am arguing about the anti-Patriot animus that makes any rule violation by a Patriot deserving of new levels of punishment. Given that recent history includes the Patriots being docked two draft picks and a million dollars for their refusal to locally revoke the Ideal Gas Law, I think I have some background for feeling the need to try to get people to approach these issues a bit more rationally.

Unfortunately, very few people are capable of arguing small points rigorously. If you've never trained in logic, math, or the law, you probably don't even notice when you're not doing it. I should perhaps know better and understand that people don't think things like
(a) what are the grounds for this punishment?
(b) what is the precedent for this kind of rules violation?

Instead I get arguments based on absurd metaphors like "This is like deliberately trying to injure somebody in a pre-game warmup". Well, except for the five different ways it's not like that, you have a point.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:13am

Ah, I thought you were defending Gronk's act more than debating the validity of any excessive punishment.

by TGT :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:20pm

YOU are referencing logic and rationality here? You who think this hit was no different than any of the hits on receivers where players are aiming for the body and miss?

You are the one putting forth the belief that people calling for Gronk to be suspended longer are doing so out of animus towards the Patriots. You are the one that is ignoring arguments and the ways your supposedly similar examples are not similar.

Just because you think you're being rational, that doesn't make it so. You're in an echo chamber of your own head. You started assuming anti-Patriots bias. When people disagree with your interpretation of what happened, which is pretty much everyone here, you just chalk it up to more anti-Patriot bias, instead of realizing that maybe you're the one in la-la land.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 9:37pm

only thing to argue herfe is one game or more games suspension

by ChrisLong :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:26pm

I don't like the argument that punishments in the past have been inconsistent so therefore Gronk's punishment shouldn't be more than a game.

1. If your argument is that past punishments haven't been consistent with the act, therefore this one shouldn't be either, well then punishments will never be consistent with the act and the problem never gets solved. Step one is assigning appropriate punishment for the first time.

2. There hasn't been an act like this in a long time, so of course punishments won't follow recent precedent.

3. There is no doubting that recent punishments in the NFL have been arbitrary. But they can't have a rule for this situation either, at least not outside of the normal unsportsmanlike conduct rules. He should have been kicked out of the game by those also.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:10am

Sorry, but punishments have to follow a consistent pattern. Otherwise punishments are doled out based on the name on the uniform. And sorry, but Pats fans are sick and fucking tired of that attitude.

It's simply untrue that there haven't been other hits like this in recent years. Sorry! They haven't been as high profile, because the NFL media decided to make this high profile.

The point here is that punishments for similar violations has not been "arbitrary". That's why this suspension is in line with similar hits in the past. Fans who have been told for the past 24 hours that this is some kind of unique hit have been misled.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:40am

As I've stated several times, the league has made a hash out of disciplining on field behavior infractions, just like off field infractions. What I also stated is that the players have an interest in sitting down with management, and developing very large, consistent, disincentives for engaging in behavior which can reasonably be expected to result in significant injury, while being completely tangential to the competition.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:11am

Double post.

by Alternator :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 7:50am

Gronk should have been ejected from the game, yes - and had he been ejected, then based on past precedent, he wouldn't have been suspended.

Step one is not deciding to screw over the Patriots by invoking special heavy punishment just for their players because reasons. Step one is to lay out a clear standard of discipline during the off-season and sticking to it.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:54am

Somewhat related but also unrelated.

I was just reading the ESPN profile on Burflict that they posted before the game tonight. In it he talks about the fact that as a defender he talks with other defenders about making offensive players hate the contact - by actually doing damage.

That's what I'm talking about in my post. It's not so much the damage part but the domination, the hit that winds you so much that you don't want to get up. The twisting of sore ankles, etc. That it's not about excuses but about setting your will out to dominate the others through force.

To people that don't like this stuff I'm really confused about why you would watch football.

Look at Romanowski's statements, he basically is saying this is what football is.


Burflict basically says that its about doing what you can. So, to me, Gronk and his dive onto White. I do think it's like what I said earlier, refs gotta control the game and if they don't then the stuff outside/alongside the game starts to show itself.

It makes sense to look at the fact that this site is not at all representative of the majority of NFL fans. If anything we're the minority. I think most NFL fans delight in the violence (a quote taken directly from the article and certainly what I've seen from most casual watchers). To see evidence of this look at the comments on the best hits videos on youtube or general football videos on youtube. It's people praising the damage.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:57am

To Romanowski, football included ripping a teammate's helmet off at practice, after a play, and breaking a teammates' facial bones, ending the teammate's career. It is simply empirically false to claim that actions like that need to be tolerated, in order to exhibit extremely entertaining football competition.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:29am

Yeah, I definitely know Romanowski was labelled a dirty player, as is Burflict. But to be a dirty player and still be in the league is either a problem with the league or a part of the game or both at the same time. Or it's the very fabric of the league.

No matter how much you don't think the league has a place for them it does - my dad for instance loved watching Romanowski when I was younger while I thought he was a savage. And without my dad's love of that violence I probably would've stayed playing Warcraft II rather than getting into football. I've since softened and become a bit more empathetic to the players in the game and their violence after having considered all that the game demands of them and the nature of the sport.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:39am

It can have a place for Romanowski, until he engages in potentially career ending violence that has nothing to do with playing football. Then, he's gotta go. It isn't 1978 anymore.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:52am

I don't think you get the carnal appreciation for the violence of the game that drives many fans. I watched a Romanowski hits video last night and many of the comments were: that's the way the game should be played. And many comments were also about the fact that he was dirty. That's the conundrum.

Fans that want violence don't care much about whether a person has the self-control to be violent on the field and not violent off it - they're concerned more with who's the biggest and who is the strongest. You're certainly right that violence outside of the bounds of the game are empirically not necessary for the game. But I also happen to realize that there are many who just want to see gladiators destroy each other.

I also happen to think that you're not factoring that those that play the game have a comfort level with violence that maybe predisposes them to more casual uses of it, when they probably should refrain. And of course, this isn't everyone - I think there are many players who are self-controlled, but the game also has a certain correlation to highly violent individuals, although I'm not sure how it compares to the general population.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:50am

In this post, you've written several unsupported assertions, and made assumptions about me, despite not knowing me at all. In response, I'll stick to verifiable facts. 1)Participation rates for young people playing football have declined significantly. 2.)Polling indicates that injury concerns significantly factor is those declining participation.3)Gronk was violent in a way that significantly increased the chance of significant injury, by an act that was tangential to playing football, thus putting forth the image of football as a game with large injury risk, while not doing anything that resembled a football play.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:07am

And you've yet to show any tie between dwindling youth participation and the actual business model. It's all speculation. The NFL is an advertisement financed league, and the product is a game that is both athletic in nature with a play to play strategic tilt but very specifically violent in athletic nature.

While my evidence is anecdotal regarding why people watch that doesn't invalidate or discredit my points. And that's what the business model is really about. The pro game is driven by dollars, not by participants. As long as there are dollars there will be pro players. And if there are pro players there will be minor leagues in some sort of fashion. They may be exponentially smaller than before but that affecting the business may or may not affect viewer numbers.

What may turn you off, which may be completely true about you, something like Gronk's act, may actually be the whole reason why someone else watches. And that is certainly the case. I don't understand how you can see that kind of thing as tangential to the game when the violence part of the product, and outside the rules violence is accounted for with a system of rules and fouls and suspensions in place.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:17am

If you wish to contend that that a professional sports league does not have a vital interest with regard to the size of the talent pool from which the players are drawn, well, you just go ahead and do that. I think that is divorced from observable reality.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:44pm

Just read a profile on Marcus Williams, the one who's career ended. It didn't end because he couldn't actually step back onto the football field. He kept working out and claims he could still play. He said that the reason why he never got another job is because he went to the courts to settle his differences with Romanowski. After that the league never touched him again.

Link: http://www.espn.com/espnmag/story?id=3736899

An interesting tidbit there from Romanowski is this story about Ronnie Lott:

Romanowski also offered a reason for his on-field persona, which he developed as a rookie with the 49ers in 1988. During a game against Oakland, Ethan Horton (another tight end) pushed Romanowski in the back and the young linebacker didn't retaliate. The next day at a film session, future Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott shut off the projector, turned on the lights and punked Romanowski for allowing himself to get punked. "This is a game about respect," Lott said. "If you let someone do that again, I'll come after you myself."

by MC2 :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:14am

I was expecting him to get 2 games, and for that to probably (but not necessarily) be reduced to 1 game on appeal. This really isn't that far off from that.

The one thing that the NFL has seemed to be consistent about is punishing first offenders much more lightly (e.g. when A.J. Green wasn't suspended, while Mike Evans was, even though what Green did looked a lot worse). To my knowledge, Gronk has no previous "incidents" on his record, so I'm not that surprised that he got off lightly.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:22am

He's got some fines for things. Throwing Sergio Brown out of the club. I think he's got 4 or 5 fines for unsportsmanlike. Oh, taunting in the Seahawks superbowl after the pick and there was the fracas after the neutral zone infraction was another one. Nothing too crazy previously.

by blan :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:21am

I can understand if people think the league should suspend players multiple games for this type of incident, but the recent precedent has been one game.

I think the most similar recent incident is Mike Evans hitting Marshon Lattimore outside of play. Evans got one game for that incident.

by eggwasp :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:45am

Seems like if you try to assault the guy while he's standing up and facing you you get 2 games (Crabtree/Talib) but if you do it while he's prone on the ground, defenceless, you get only half of that.

by Alternator :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 7:52am

Crabtree and Talib had a history of fighting dating to last year, which is why they received a harsher initial punishment - this is Gronk's first offense.

by bigpoppapump :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:49am

lot's of focus comparing foul for foul, when it's the individual being suspended. Thus one needs to also consider prior record. Gronk hasn't done this before, has he? Clearly it was very dirty, but not a premeditated act. In a nutshell, he's lost his temper and taken immediate revenge for whatever he thought had been done to him.

Needs suspending, but not inline with some imaginary crime done in theory to Brady's knees. Needs suspending inline with his act here and his past record. One game feels about right - particularly as he escaped ejection from the game (which was my reaction about what should have happened when I saw it happen live).

Move on. It's a violent game and he's been suspended for going over the top.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:42am

His violence had nothing to do with playing the game, which is why that type of violence should be met with a ruthless response designed to eradicate further occurences.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 8:34am

How is what Gronk did any different than the hit Dale Hunter put on Pierre Turgeon? Note that Hunter was suspended 21 games, the longest suspension in NHL history at the time.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:39am

I'd never really heard of this incident. After reading about it on Wikipedia and watching the Youtube clip I'd say that the difference is this: Hunter gave up a bad play and was frustrated and lashed out after the fact. Gronk was fouled and was frustrated after the fact because he was being fouled regularly.

To me they both happen after the fact and thus shouldn't have happened, but the context for the plays to me is very different. Not being able to catch a ball because you're pushed downfield by the defender is outside the rules of play and should've been called. Giving up the puck because you made a bad pass in your own end is your own fault. Hunter was frustrated because he blew it. Gronk was frustrated because the refs were blowing it.

I don't know about the actual history of the Hunter/Turgeon game and what led up to the play in question. It seemed like it was just poor play by Hunter. The Buffalo-Patriots game was to me pretty evenly reffed except for the fact that they kept on calling fouls against Gronk and didn't call fouls against those guarding him, when it seemed to me that it was pretty clear that he was fighting through holds and clutching most of the game.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:44am

It is a mystery why you think the source of frustration matters, from the perspective of sound business practices.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:11am

Because just as much as players want a fair game so do the spectators. And the business of the NFL should be concerned with driving spectators away with integrity issues - just not in the way they're doing so.

Hence it's not only the act that matters but the rationale behind the act. People will watch these gladiators play when they believe it's imbued with the pageantry of grit, effort, sacrifice, etc. But when they believe it's staged or scripted or biased, then they start turning it off.

Hence, if the violence outside the lines can be explained, or it forces change from the NFL in regards to reffing, then it's achieved a purpose in shaping the league, both on a micro level in the relationship between the two players but also at the macro level of shaping league policy. Now whether that's good for the league or bad for the league is what we seem to be debating.

People don't watch the NFL just for the strategy or appreciation for the game. I think that's more specific to frequenters of sites such as this. That's part of it, but the core watchers of the NFL are 18-35 men who want the violence. Otherwise they'd likely be watching something else (and many are just turning to videogames - which are even more violent for the most part - although fantasy violence). As I believe you yourself have said many times, you're probably going to stop watching if the game stays so violent.

I think the best way I can make my point about this is to highlight the booth commentators. The people who comment on e-sports have a much deeper understanding of the strategy of their games than the commentators on pro sports. They describe unfolding strategies and game to game variations and subtle acts of play. This doesn't happen in pro sports. And for the most part people aren't complaining. People on sites like this do because people here crave the analysis - but again, this isn't the norm. Broadcasters put the bland color teams in place and keep the discourse at a low level because that is what appeals to the watchers. The general NFL watcher wants to be goaded by the announcers, more like WWE and the spectacle than the actual strategy. I know probably about 100 NFL fans here in Winnipeg and I can count on one hand the number that could describe to me the difference between cover-2 and cover-4. Strategy is not why they watch.

The NFL can either keep people who want the violence or people like you who want it tightly legislated. They probably will alienate one group of the other. As for myself, I'm not sure, I don't think I'll ever completely turn away from the game but when I have a family later on I can see myself not necessarily making the time to watch it the same way I do now.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:50am

They don't need 50 million dollar guarantees to put on televised violence. We can rotate through many tens of thousands of bouncers, bartenders, fork lift operators, etc., if that is what is needed. Extraordinarily elite athletes are what is required, and injury concerns are significantly harming the size of the athletic pool from which the athletes are drawn. This is a verified fact. Does this mean that all injuries have to be legislated out of the game? No, because doing so would entail no longer playing football. Gronk wasn't playing football when he engaged in the action which we are examining. He was simply adding injury risk. Now,maybe you think he has the mental capacity of a mollusk, and thus is largely resistant to behavior modification, and thus we can't get him to limit his violence to that which occurs while playing football. I disagree.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:42pm

So if I understand you correctly, you're saying the difference between Hunter being suspended 21 games and Gronk being suspended 1 game is that Hunter was angry at himself while Gronk was angry at the refs. Okay.

by LnGrrrR :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:01pm

21 games in the NHL is comparable to a 4 game suspension in the NFL. I could see a 4 game suspension being fair for his actions. Probably should be looked at during the offseason.

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:26pm

It's been a long time, but IIRC, wasn't the game over on the Hunter hit? I remember Turgeon's goal winning the game, and Hunter ambushing him while he was celebrating?

Regardless, 21 games is roughly 1/4 of the NHL season. If you want to say Gronk should be suspended for 4 games based on a rule of thumb from 1) a different league (one where fighting is tolerated), and 2) the early 90s, that's a strange way to go about it, but the end result wouldn't be too far off.

Honestly, I'm shocked this thread has so much activity. It's like 200 comments on the subject Water is wet!

It was a despicable act, Gronkowski should be suspended somewhere between 1 and 4 games, and he was -- albeit at the low end. Personally, I thought he should have been ejected and get one more game, but I wouldn't argue against whatever the League gave him. The fact that he wasn't ejected is remarkable -- for no other reason than by allowing him to remain in the game, they allowed the possibility of retaliations and retaliations against retaliations...especially in a game that was non-competitive.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:02pm

No, the game was not over.

Yes, 21 games is 1/4 of the regular season, but this was the playoffs. Imagine Gronk doing this in the Wild Card round and being suspended through the Super Bowl and into the next season. That's what the NHL gave you Hunter.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 9:02pm

No, the game was not over.

Yes, 21 games is 1/4 of the regular season, but this was the playoffs. Imagine Gronk doing this in the Wild Card round and being suspended through the Super Bowl and into the next season. That's what the NHL gave to Hunter.

by rj1 :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:27am

1. Last night's Steelers-Bengals game almost deserves an article in itself regarding injuries and hits.
2. Re NFLPA appeal, I've always wondered how that goes in their meetings, "so the union is pro-Gronkowski laying my teammate out with a forearm?"

by nat :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:36am

The NFLPA supports appeals as a matter of policy, to ensure the league applies their rules fairly to all.

Players know this. It's their union.

by morganja :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:10am

I wonder how much of the excessive, dirty violence in last night's game would have been averted if Gronk had been given a longer suspension.
Now the NFL can't really suspend any of these dirty hits for longer than they suspended Gronk.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:28am

Little to none.

Steelers-Bengals is approaching a blood feud. Their games get out of control even when losing controls costs you a playoff win.

by morganja :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:36pm

All the more reason to implement deterrent-worthy suspensions.

by morganja :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:39pm

Taking Will Allen's idea one step further, what would be the result if the NFLPA was in control of suspensions for dangerous and dirty plays?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:52pm

I suspect the vast majority of players would conclude that they are able to control themselves with regard to violent acts that are divorced from playing football, and there is no reason to expose themselves to the risk of injury from the tiny percentage of players who fail to do so.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:45pm

Will, instead of assuming anything about you I'll instead ask, how much first hand experience do you have with competitive athletics?

The reason I ask is because I think the comment you reply to, which is I think referring to an idea of yours that is a really really interesting idea, just seems to get a pat answer from you. Like, if we did things with my idea then obviously there wouldn't any issue anymore. Because you assume that people are rationale, when Richard Thaler says you can predict that people are predictable irrational.

And I'm just curious how you would think the game would be then? Does this change your mind or do you really see players as logic machines?

I read your post about the NBA and I do think policy changes can make drastic differences in organizations, but there's still pushback or pushing the line. Do you really think that these players who are stepping out of line would suddenly always be marching in line?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:44pm

I have no idea why you put forth the implication that I might believe that 100% compliance is attainable, or that elite athletes are logic machines. This isn't a question shrouded in mystery. Elite athletes will, on average, respond to disincentives in fairly predictable ways. When the NBA decided that fighting.
was a problem for the business, they put in place disincentives that had the result of significantly reducing fighting. None of this is surprising in the least.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:59pm

Ah, my mistake. That certainly was an assumption on my part that you were implying that it would have 100% success.

I think we're on the same page that more punishments meted out more consistently would have the effect of deterrent on extra-curricular activities.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 7:08pm

As I said in one of my first posts, a couple figurative hangings would have the effect of getting people to pay attention to what is demanded. Sucks for the few hung, but thems the breaks. Like I also said, it's just business.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:41pm

I have no idea why you put forth the implication that I might believe that 100% compliance is attainable, or that elite athletes are logic machines. This isn't a question shrouded in mystery. Elite athletes will, on average, respond to disincentives in fairly predictable ways. When the NBA decided that fighting.was a problem for the business, they

by theslothook :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:36pm

I think people are talking past one another and the thread is spinning out of control. So let me just state the basic facts without hyperbole that I think everyone can agree on:
1) the play was dirty and unnecessary
2) it warranted a suspension
3) the league's deliberate opacity means trying to determine a fair suspension is impossible because there is no clear defined standard.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:00pm

What a contrast with the gold standard, for managing out those aspects of player behavior which are deemed bad for business, which is David Stern and the NBA. Stern goes back to the 1970s, and the NBA has always been faced with a more pronounced burden of racism when selling their product. He just went about his business, however, and when he identified stuff which he thought was contrary to the business model, he efficiently managed that stuff out of the game, often by treating the players like adult business partners. Fights are an issue? Coming off the bench during a fight warrants automatic suspension, even for a superstar during the playoffs. Same for a superstar who gets excessive number of technical. Players attire after games in press conferences putting forth a suboptimal image? Work with the players to fix it. When the NBA had national anthem issue, it didn't become a longrunning media fiasco. In the subsequent 4 decades, the NBA went from a league that couldn't get it's Finals on live television, to a global brand, whose franchise values are starting to approach the NFL's

The NFL really shat the bed when it hired Goodell for the top job, but there is a lot of momentum in a very successful business, and it is only now becoming apparent to the owners.

by theslothook :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:03pm

The thing is - Goodell was hired to be a company man. He has fulfilled that role exceedingly well because as far as I can tell, no one - not even the outrage from deflategate has gone after the real culprits - the owners.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:54pm

A good commissioner would be a great steward of the game, not just the face for the majority of the owners.

The owners are eventually going to sabotage the league's long term health if they don't find a good steward of the game who can actually disagree with them and make meaningful progress for the league on it's host of issues.

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 1:47pm

Mostly agree with you Will, but the NBA has a more liberal fanbase than the NFL, so the player protest wasn't going to be a huge issue for them. Here's a link to the 538 article about the liberal/conservative opinions of the varying fanbases: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-every-nfl-teams-fans-lean-polit...

The College Football fanbase seems much more conservative than the NFL. Surprisingly, the NHL fanbase is more liberal than the NBA.

by runaway robot :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 2:22pm

Could be the Canadian effect.

by morganja :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:51pm

I think that's a fair assessment of what most people agree on.

What people do not agree on is whether a player (Patriot) should incur a deterrent-worthy punishment for these types of non-football egregious plays.

I kind of like the idea of Gronk being charged with assault and then a civil suit. Leave it to a non-New England jury to assess punitive damages.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:01pm

Could a player in the NFLPA actually bring a suit against another player for a tangentially related part of the game (cheap shots being something that is understood to be illegal and yet happen from time to time) and stay a part of the union and thus a part of the league? So, could Lattimore bring suit against Evans? Etc.

Would the union possibly bar this course of action?

Does anyone here know the American law on it because I only know the Canadian law and hockey is much different than football in regards to extracurriculars related to the game. Most things are allowed, even some cheap shots. I don't know what exactly distinguished Bertuzzi-Moore from the run of the mill cheap shots though (Bertuzzi was criminally convicted but they settled the civil suit).

Edit: After doing some research it seems like Courts may step in but they often don't. This goes back to a 1973 incident between Boobie Clarke and Dale Hackbart. The summary is this: you can be prosecuted by acts on the field but the courts in the US have since 1973 always deferred to the leagues themselves. At civil trial the court supported Clarke's paralyzing of Hackbart as part of the game, the appeals court turned it over, and then they settled before it went back to court for the 2nd time. And there hasn't been a case since then.

Full text: https://openjurist.org/601/f2d/516/hackbart-v-cincinnati-bengals-inc

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:17pm

I thought Marty McSorely was prosecuted.

Never mind. I think that was in Canada.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:24pm

yeah, there have been several hockey related prosecutions in Canada since the 1973 decision but the 1973 decision is the one that stands as precedent in the USA

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:51pm

yeah, I think all of us agree on these points.

by jtr :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:03pm

I think it's pretty clear that the referees have been losing control of some games. This game in question, the Steelers-Bengals game last night (and at least one Steelers-Bengals game annually), and the Beckham-Norman game a few years ago come to mind immediately. One thing that would immediately help with this would be to eject players once they lose control. I am still shocked that Gronkowski was not ejected; what exactly does a player have to do to get ejected that would be more flagrant than that? I was also shocked that Beckham was not ejected for spearing Josh Norman from the blindside after the play a few years ago; frankly, both players should have been ejected far earlier than that as they committed personal foul after personal foul.
The NFL rulebook gives wide latitude to the officials to remove a player; virtually every personal foul in the rulebook is an ejectable offense if the referee rules it to be flagrant. Ejecting a player serves several purposes: it removes a player who has lost his temper before he can do something excessively violent, it keeps that player from raising tensions and provoking retaliation, and it sends a message to the remaining players that this behavior will not be tolerated. I would also like to see NBA-style flagrant foul reviews, where the refs can automatically review the play if they suspect a flagrant foul has occurred. Keeping control of the game and removing overly violent players is too important to not be able to check the video to make sure officials haven't missed something.

by JMM :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:17pm

I wonder if the Ref's didn't eject Gronk because they assumed an ejected player won't also get suspended and it was late in the 4th Q. By holding off ejection, they improved the odds of suspension.

by sbond101 :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 2:45pm

"frankly, both players should have been ejected far earlier than that as they committed personal foul after personal foul." - This, absolutely.

It is the first job of every official at every level of every sport to do his best to ensure that the game doesn't spin out of control end up with fights, dirty hits, and most importantly injured players. The events in Buffalo and Cincinnati this weekend are clear reminders of what happens when officials fail at that Job. Its also very clear to an objective observer in both games that ejecting players after incidents is not sufficient; a refs job is to call penalties and ejections when things show signs of spinning out of control; to me that's why the Amendola hit on the play with the now-infamous Gronk hit is so significant - It tells an objective observer that everyone in the building knew, or should have, that play was already over the line "chipy". A ref doing there job would have reeled in the physicality in a game where the outcome had been decided in the third quarter.

"I would also like to see NBA-style flagrant foul reviews,..." I really hate this idea. In a game with 7 officials on the field already nothing is "behind the play". Officials who are competent and focused on keeping the game safe really don't need 5 minutes to stare at a replay to realize a game is getting out of control - that's what their eyes and brain are supposed to be for. in the Pat's-Bills game, a 2-3 d/o-PI flags in the early 4th quarter get that game under control. We don't need a new system - we need refs who are focused on things besides whether a guy "had control through the process of the catch".

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:07pm

Yeah, definitely. Wasn't there supposed to be a re-emphasis on personal fouls this past offseason?

As sbond101 has said, the refs just need to keep control of the game, and it's like they don't know how to do that anymore.

by jtr :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:18pm

NFL just announced one-game suspensions for Smith-Schuster and Iloka for their respective helmet-to-helmet hits in the Bengals-Steelers game last week. I don't think that's necessarily an unreasonable punishment, but the NFL has been very inconsistent on issuing suspensions for h2h hits during game action.

I think we're mostly in agreement in this thread that an illegal hit during game action is a very different beast from an illegal hit outside of game action. If hitting someone too high on what would otherwise be a legal block is a one-game suspension, shouldn't it be something like 2-4 games for maliciously hitting someone who is face down well after the whistle? I think we can generally agree that Gronkowski's play was significantly worse than Smith-Schuster's, right? I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the NFL's discipline for on-field incidents is all over the place, considering how bad they've been about discipline for off-field events.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 2:25pm

"I think we're mostly in agreement in this thread that an illegal hit during game action is a very different beast from an illegal hit outside of game action."

That seems to be a point of contention that everybody assumed was the relevant dividing line.
I tried to contest this but was simply insulted for doing so.

In both hits, flags were thrown because a "defenseless player" was hit. Daryl Stingley was paralyzed during such a play and the game action was live, so I'm not willing to draw the dividing line at "in game action". If a player is defenseless and is hit intentionally with an intent to injure, I don't care if the whistle has blown or not.

"I think we can generally agree that Gronkowski's play was significantly worse than Smith-Schuster's, right?"

No. Smith-Schuster deliberately hit Burfict with an intent to cause a concussion or worse. It was premeditated long before that play happened. Intent and pre-meditation are what change manslaughter to first-degree murder. Smith-Schuster made a helmet-to-helmet hit deliberately targeting the head. Gronk hit a prone man on the ground in a reckless manner that caused his head to hit the ground with great force.

Gronk has claimed temporary rage inspired his attack. That would put it either as manslaughter or second-degree depending on whether you think the concussion was the intent of the attack or the result of an intentional attack that wasn't specifically made to cause that injury.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 3:52pm

The problem is that absent previous similar acts (which is often the case, to be sure) a player who commits a dangerous act while making a play can make a plausible argument that what he did was a one-off act of carelessness while playing football. Gronk can make no plausible claim that what he did entailed an attempt to play football. There is no reason to demonstrate any tolerance whatsoever for deliberate actions which can be reasonably be envisioned to inflict significant injury, when the action did not involve any attempt to play football. That's why the analogy with an infraction during pregame warmups is not inane. In neither case is the offender trying to play football.

But to reiterate, I think we have a point of agreement, when the offender has a history of in-game dangerous acts which violate the rules. Whether deliberate or due to chronic carelessness, repeated in-game violations should result in multigame suspensions, in pursuit of sound business practices. It really is critical for the league to pick the low hanging fruit with regard dangerous acts, and the stuff that happens that doesn't involve playing football, and repeat offenders, are on the lowest branches.

by JMM :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 5:56pm

"Smith-Schuster deliberately hit Burfict with an intent to cause a concussion or worse. It was premeditated long before that play happened."


How do you know JJSS's intent on that play? Did he post it on Twitter or other social media? A private conversation between the two of you? You saw him discuss it on late night TV?

How long before that play had JJSS thought about it? Two plays? A week? A year? How did he know the opportunity to "cause a concussion or worse" would present itself?


by Rich A :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 5:23pm

I posted an article from ESPN where they interviewed Burflict and he shared tweets from Steelers players talking about shooting Burflict if they ran into him at South Beach.

Those tweets have since been deleted but yes, they are definitely looking to injure him if they can get the chance. Not that I necessarily think it's absurd, they probably feel like Burflict plays with the same mentality. They probably see it as just a matter of who is going to injure the other first.

These two teams when they play each other are using the play as a legal means of assaulting each other. They're taking the mentality that I've kind of referred to regarding playing with edge or liking the acts of violence and they take that to its absolute maxim.

by JMM :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 9:05pm

So you are using A Tweet posted and deleted by Vince Williams as evidence of JJSS's (rookie with 1 game prior history with the Bengals and none with Burficit who was suspended for that game. intent.)

I am familiar with the teams and the recent history. Your ascribing motivate to one person for the retracted words of another is outrageous.

by Rich A :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 3:56pm

Well, a few things.

First, I understand that the connection is tenuous and is not rock solid. Second, while a person may retract their words that doesn't mean those words are suddenly null. Oftentimes the words that are retracted are retracted because they put a person in a predicament, not because they don't actually mean what they said (although I think Williams probably wasn't thinking about fighting on South Beach but rather intimidation for the games). Third, while a rookie and with only one prior game, I'm sure JJSS would've been briefed by teammates about how things are. As well as his responsibility to stand with his teammates during and after play during all the scrums. Hate can definitely be taught. Is that enough to say he had an intent to injure. Well, I think it might be. I'm not saying it was definite.

To me the factor that stands the strongest is probably the one that I didn't touch on, the one of the gloating/taunting after the hit. If a person lays a good block, and then celebrates with teammates to me that more indicates it's about playing well. When someone stands over someone they knocked over, to me that signals it's more about the damage done to that specific individual. Although again, I acknowledge that the connection is tenuous.

So while you may call it outrageous to draw this conclusion I think that it may be possible or even probable that there was an intent to injure during play, and hence not so outrageous.

by erniecohen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:12pm

Giving Smith-Schuster and Gronkowski equal suspensions is just bizarre.

by mbmxyz :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:35pm

Hits like the Gronk shot on White - against the rules, on the sidelines and after the whistle - are always heavily penalized in football, as this one is, but man oh man, the notion that the hit was outside the norms of football or especially dangerous (for football) is just off-base. The kinetic energy in the (legal and ordinary) hit on Amendola of the Patriots by a Bills' safety on a pass over the middle - well, let's do some math. The formula for calculating kinetic energy is (0.5 * m * (v*v)). Amendola and the safety are running full-out, so about 7 m/s and each weighs around 90 kg, so the number is about 4400 Joules for that collision. Gronk weighs around 120 kg and was moving at say half-speed when he hit White, so 3.5 m/s. The energy in that collision is approximately 700 Joules. The difference is close to an order of magnitude, so, if safety is the issue, why no hand-wringing over the safety who laid out Amendola? (That is rhetorical.) (In HS, I was once laid out by a blocker I never saw. I turned and the next thing I remember is being flat on my back on the ground. It was just boom. There is a kind of rush in surviving a hit like that. It is kind of cool. And that was HS speed and HS size. Personally, I don't see how NFL players survive the collisions.) I played DB, and I did a lot of hand-checking/holding, because otherwise some of the players would have just run away from me. Receivers would slap my arms away, push me around; I can testify that they did not like it. If I had pushed one to the ground, as White did Gronk, to get an interception, I would expect the receiver to come after me. Especially if the ref did not call the foul. That's football too. I don't think White deserved that hit, but he surely knew something was coming. If the refs consistently let the DBs get away with holding Gronk and penalize him when he tries to get the DBs off of him, then, by the accepted norms of the game, he has to assert himself physically. He cannot fail to respond. That is how the game is played. (well, in HS anyway.) This is on the refs.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 3:56pm

It is simply a false statement to claim that every instance of bad officiating with regard to PI and holding is met with the sort of action that Gronk engaged in.

by mbmxyz :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:53pm

Absolutely agree, but the outcome of every instance of official error is not a turnover, and an embarrassing one at that. I played in HS, which is probably a poor reference, but it is the only reference I have. One game, in SC about 1970, I was covering this black guy who was a bigger and faster than I. He might have been the only black guy on the field, but in any case, he was not going to get any calls. I was hand-checking the entire game. I was fast enough to keep up as long as I gave him a little shove every few steps, not a big thing but enough to keep him under control. I could hear him muttering, complaining to himself after plays. He outweighed my by probably 30 lbs., so I was a little worried abut what might happen if he came after me. He didn't - I expect his parents told him rule one was no fights with white boys - but I was careful not to overplay my holding. Since the refs were not going to flag me, the only fetter on my play was the physical presence of the receiver, and he chose to not use that. On the interception, the DB put Gronkowski on the ground and intercepted the Brady pass. Gronk cannot allow himself to be shoved around by a DB. That is fact. He puts up with holding and bumping, but no receiver lasts long when DBs push them aside and intercept passes. At that moment, the only question was whether the refs or Gronk would impose discipline on the DB. My claim is that everyone on the field knew that.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:50pm

Yes, that is your claim.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 7:09pm

And you haven't addressed it besides pointing out to the idea of deterring via suspensions.

As many have pointed out, tighter and more consistent reffing league wide with regards to physical "bending""cheating" would probably deter the league wide rash of fights that are breaking out.

These people aren't just fighting for no reason, there is a cause, and many claim that the league inconsistency in reffing and suspensions is a part of it, and it's like you don't realize or recognize that the players policing themselves is a part of the game too.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:24pm

First, you haven't established that fighting is up. Nor have you established that the increased fighting, if it has occurred, is due to reffing. There is just as much reason to believe that pre 2003, the reffing was more loose/inconsistent. Just because you really think something is true doesn't mean that it is.

In contrast, there is hard data to support the contention that injury concerns are significantly driving down participation rates among young people. Unless you think the size of the talent pool from which a professional sports league draws it's athletes is irrelevant to the health of the business, which strikes me as quite bizarre, then reducing injury concerns is a high priority. Why one would not start with the injuries which occur as a result of actions that have nothing to do with football plays is also a puzzling question, especially since we also have hard data which establishes that elite athletes will refrain from behavior deemed contrary to the business model, when sufficient disincentives are in place.

To sum it up, I have no idea why you are so resistant to the verifiable data which is right in front of you.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:51pm

In regards to the fighting thing, I haven't been able to find anyone's work showing a list of every fight; so you're right I can't show that fighting is going up or down. And I can't seem to find any yearly data other than well liked youtube videos regarding fights, which is kind of a echo-chamber. The people looking for fights on youtubes are the ones wanting it. And I simply don't have the time to find all the data. I can however point to the fact that Cris Carter on his show yesterday said that as a player he made it very clear to the refs that if they didn't call an even game that he would cause a fight. That if he was held that he would gouge the eyes out of the DB covering him. And he then proceeded to explain that how he did that in a game against the Lions. He said it was completely natural/understandable that if Gronk was held, and that if it wasn't called, that Gronk would then lay down the law.

Here's the link.

And then you've got a hypocrite in a suit, a yuppie that's never played the game, making comments about what should be happening. I'm sorry but I take the word of the guy who's stepped on the field every time.

In regards to the participation rate, footballs never going to grow in America again, it's in some ways a post barbarian culture. Reading all the old law cases they called the sport consented savagery. Western society largely isn't like that anymore. The NFL will only shed local viewers and participation. And to me that isn't really an issue because I see the game gaining traction internationally in places where consented violence is lacking. My first comparison was the idea about small countries competing at the Olympics but the NFL is more like the IOC, and they're maybe shrinking their talent pool locally but they're growing it internationally.

Also, it seems like you haven't read any of the legal cases on this that completely back up my assertion that there is a consented to amount of violence that is extracurricular to the game. It's just where that line is drawn and how ambiguous it is. Which is what the league is currently struggling with, both the handfighting during the games as well as consistency in suspensions after altercations.

Yes, I do agree that these actions can be curbed, but big actions will continue until the small things are attended to first - the violence in football develops ill will between teams when not regulated at the smallest level (the handfighting)(the tackles across the middle or the low tackles). Big actions will continue to spill over even with suspensions. Look at Gronk, he did what he did a mere 3 weeks after several players were ejected in Week 9, and he explained it himself as being based on the sum of numerous small fouls uncalled.

I'm not sure which data I'm resistant to. I certainly agree that a talent pool is necessary but I also stated dollars draw talent in a different post. I just don't put the talent pool at the top of the list. And to me I don't doubt the declining viewership, but I see that as related to population and immigration demographics as much as anything else. In general the people that have typically watched football are a shrinking demographic - and people turning away because it's violent, well, for each that turns away I think several more are filling their place based upon violence as well as all the other things like fantasy, gambling, and globalization.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:21pm

Since you've decided to drop any pretense to civility (really, though, if you are going to call somebody a hypocrite, it is helpful to actually illuminate the alleged hypocrisy.And "yuppie"? The eighties called, and it wants its cliches back), I'll make this brief and blunt. It is really, really, really (really!) stupid to quote Cris Carter as havin some sort of authori

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:39pm

To me the hypocrisy stems from having a job predicated upon talking about a sport that he's never played at the pro level and to me that significantly changes the validity of positions. I know Ad Hominem fallacies etc, but to me the people who are a part of something are the ones that can criticize it. Other wise a critic with no experience is really naive and mostly uninformed. He hasn't built the league, he doesn't know what goes on in the scrums. And I used Yuppie in the sense of "Young Professional", which was it's original usage for describing soft individuals from the Southern California Valley. I just looked him up and he's not from the valley but he was a journalism major and it looks like he's never played a day of sports in his life from his facebook page. So, yeah, likely soft. Although maybe not. Maybe he benches like James Harrison. (Edit: his fox profile actually states that he lives in the LA valley now...)

Cris Carter is HoF player who just so happens to play receiver and have first hand experience with refs and first hand experience with DB play. At the pro level. Something I'm going to assume you have no first hand experience with. I think he's explanation of Gronk's response, and it is an explanation and not condoning, has considerable weight regarding explaining the nature of the league, players, and referees.

In regards to Carter's authority, I think he makes more than any poster on this site for his football knowledge and experience, so while his perspective may be biased it is also much more nuanced and informed given his first hand experience. As well as his proficiency at both his on-field role, and his debatable proficiency at his commentator role.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:45pm

My reply was chopped, so here it is in its entirety. You don't know what the term "hypocrite" means....

Since you've decided to drop any pretense to civility (really, though, if you are going to call somebody a hypocrite, it is helpful to actually illuminate the alleged hypocrisy.And "yuppie"? The eighties called, and it wants its cliches back), I'll make this brief and blunt. It is really, really, really (really!) stupid to quote Cris Carter as having some sort of authoritative opinion on the topic, because he played in the NFL, as if I could not quote former NFL players who have been all over the airwaves the last two days saying that Gronk's penalty is insufficient, and there is no mitigating circumstances for the behavior. Guess what? A lot of them have been retired defensive backs. Imagine that. Of course, I didn't raise such an argument, because it is obviously inane, and peripheral to my argument, which is a straightforward one pertaining to what is important to running a professional sports league as a business. Again, if somebody thinks shrinking participation rates are nothing for the NFL to have great concern with, and what research indicates is among the most important factors for those declining rates can be safely ignored by those who own the business, then my view of this is without basis. Believe what you will. I need to press my suit!

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:56pm

Have fun at whatever occasion calls for a suit!

I know we don't see things the same way but I appreciate you taking the time to converse on the topic!

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 7:14pm

Yes, that is your claim.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:58pm

I'll make a deal. You tell me how much KE I can deliver, and I get to choose where and how I apply it. Deal?

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:37pm


Finally someone else the seems to understand that games are competitions and real people are playing and it's not just some little pantomime drama.

There's the official game regarding the speed and the play design and then there's the actual dynamics of how players are relating to each other from play to play throughout the game.

People aren't robots and they don't just switch off the second play is over. They don't just switch off completely when outside of a game - hence Gronk doing WWE, or Rice and all the other players doing DWTS, or the matters of domestic violence from people like Hardy.

It's not a legislated part of the game officially, but it is unofficially because that's why suspensions and fines exist, to police the game and say when enough is enough either after the fact or outside the arena.

Gronk shouldn't have done it - although he was goaded, and it was dumb, but he did. And now he's paying a price for it. That's sports.

by theslothook :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:42pm

How many plays can you name where stuff like this happened well after the whistle?

And Gronk was goaded? Please explain how White goaded him while lying face down on the floor.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:33pm

In week 9 alone there were fights in 3 different games.

As for the goading, I refer you to the posts by mbmxyz above as well as my post about business decisions.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 10:55pm

"How many plays can you name where stuff like this happened well after the whistle?"

Really? Steve Smith almost killed a teammate in practice. Gronk's suspension is merited, but its not a huge amount worse than the players who take a swing at other players. Crabtree was just as much "trying to injure" Talib as Gronk was.

People have tempers, people have emotion, and when the refs let players get chippy, and let things get out of hand, violent acts become more likely.

That's not justifying what Gronk did - its reality.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:50pm

Taking a swing at a helmeted player who is facing you really isn't especially dangerous, unlike Gronk's action. Now, you took the player's helmet off, and then take a swing, then your action is on the same level as Gronk's. Rip your own helmet off, so your opponent can get a good shot in, like Crabtree did? Lifetime suspension for being too stupid for words!

by MarkV :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 5:02pm

This was my last straw for the season. I have been losing interest in football because of a lot of reasons. Last week I started watching Broncos Raiders and turned it off after a fight. This season I have seen many violent and cheap hits that I simply don't want my family watching... and this was probably the worst hit I'd ever seen in football.

Maybe next year I will try again, but its hard to enjoy this type of behavior. Especially when nothing gets punished heavily except for Josh Gordon having a serious drug problem.

by morganja :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:00pm

Can you imagine what would have happened if Gronk had played against the Patriot teams of last decade, when they were physically assaulting their opponent's receivers every play in the playoffs?

by morganja :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:09pm

Yeah. I have lost more and more interest in football over the years. I barely watch any of it anymore. I was going to spend $400 on tickets and their online thing but the Kaep blackballing prevented me from doing that.
The Patriots bending/breaking/ignoring the rules on their way to Super Bowl after Super Bowl and then having to listen to their fans incessant whining about how the NFL is out to get them makes the seasons pointless.
They really need a commissioner like baseball had before their owners did their coup and kicked out Faye Vincent, someone who represents the owners, players and fans equally.

by Rich A :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 7:19pm

I rarely agree with you but I can really agree with your conclusion that the NFL needs a commissioner that represents the owners, players, and fans equally.

by Raiderfan :: Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:44pm

Sorry I don't have the patience to read through all 143 NEW comments, but I want to congratulate FO for finding something that is apparently as worthy of debate as Manning-Brady!

by Fargo :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 6:56pm

Not going to happen, but it would be great if the NFL used his appeal to have the case reviewed by an independent panel, who decided to increase it to 3-4 games.

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 2:02pm

So we have over 200 comments, and not one mentions that neither the Steelers nor Bengals seem sorry for the brutality of their game on Monday. Antonio Brown yells karma in the background of an interview about Burflict's injury, and Mike Mitchell pines for the days when Jack Tatum's hits were legal. In the interest of fairness and schadenfreude, I'll post a link to the play where Mitchell lost his mind for good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqIuyacK7q0

by runaway robot :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 2:57pm

1. Burfict was not injured. According to numerous sources, including Bengals-based sites, he hopped off the cart as soon as he got in the dressing room. He is now on concussion protocol, which is likely as phony as his "injury," given that he was grabbing at JJSS's leg before the bearers of the cart dutifully trooped onto the field.

2. JJSS's block was perfectly good in intent and process, leading with his shoulder into Burfict, who was a couple yards away and closing in fast on Bell, but he ended up high, initiating helmet-to-helmet contact, which should have been and was penalized.

3. JJSS apologized right away for the taunting. He's the youngest starter in the NFL and he screwed up. Tomlin deplored the taunting as well. He was suspended for it and that's fine with me.

4. Iloka won his appeal from suspension and will play next week. Seems crazy to me, but that's what happened.

5. The only injury was Shazier's, and he did it to himself with bad tackling form. No dirty play was involved.

6. So we are talking about no injuries from even arguably dirty hits.

by Rich A :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 5:16pm

I'm not a fan of either team but to me this is the result of ref's losing control of a series of rivalry games. Eventually all the bad blood that's outside the rules of the game but still peripheral to the game; the trash talking that maybe could be called taunting, the hits out of bounds that are 15 yards each time but add up to a thought that the other team wants to injure me, the tweeting at each other that they're going to paint each other, and both these teams seem to have coaches that define this as "it's just football".

I lean towards understanding that side of things but I really think both of these coaches would benefit from having a sit down with the commish where he takes Will Allen's position and basically says, "tone the kill shots down because they're not good for the game. Even during the play it doesn't make sense for you to want to kill each other out there; that's not healthy for your health or for the game, so knock it off or we'll start suspending multiple players of yours every time you two play".

But of course that likely won't happen.

by Rich A :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 5:52pm

Interesting comment from White to Ryan Clarke that Clarke decided to share on air. Clarke said that White texted him and told him that "the whole hood want 'em".

To me this is just further evidence that things outside the whistle, or outside the play, or from game to game, spills over. Maybe they'll be a fight next game. I think they'll definitely be going at Gronk's knees and then they'll be at least a few scrums (my money is on Amendola and Gronk vs White and others).

White said in his first remarks since the incident that Gronk should think about the fact that White has a child (and implied to keep his cool)(off the field affecting the game and peripheral activities). That's not Gronk's responsibility. His responsibility is to catch passes. White's responsibility is to prevent that. Both are to act within the rules. And if White's going to go outside the rules, and it's not going to be called, then he should expect that the bent rules will be further bent or maybe completely ignored, likely in retaliation and to his detriment).

Of course now there's bad blood and if they blow out Gronk's knee next game they'll be even more bad blood that neither team will want to move on from. And all this could've been likely avoided with stricter calls from the refs on the handfighting. Or better conduct from each player (White not bending the rules, Gronk not losing his mind)

by morganja :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 11:33pm

That is some really messed up BS right there. It is Gronk's responsibility to not assault and attempt to injure another human being. It really is. We have laws exactly for that reason. If you don't know the difference between someone possibly committing a penalty by having too much contact on a passing play in football, and attacking someone with the intent to injure, than you don't belong on a football field. You don't belong anywhere except prison.
Honestly, what is wrong with Patriot fans? Holy crap.
I played football for close to a decade, including on semi-pro teams, and I never encountered anyone who thought the appropriate response to a penalty was to attack and try to kill someone.
What is most ridiculous, is that Gronkowski commits more penalties than probably anyone in football. He is coddled and excused because he is white, and because he is on the Patriots. There are probably a hundred defensive backs and linebackers who have more cause to be upset at illegal contact from Gronkowski than he has with anyone.

by Rich A :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 3:46pm

You're misconstruing my argument.

Just because I said that it wasn't Gronk's responsibility to think or take care of White's son doesn't mean that I give blessing that what Gronk did was right. I actually said Gronk was supposed to play within the rules, and hence, while understanding his frustration, and even understanding what he was doing, I still think it was morally wrong and justifiably punishable.

The point of my comment wasn't to allow Gronk off. It was to say that these things are vicious cycles. By both parties. And that's what happens when the rules are bent, even when the rules are bent in such a way that they can be got away with (minor handfighting, the stuff the best players tend to get away with because it's so subtle).

To me this isn't about Gronk so much as it is about the nature of the game. For me I could very well have used this with any set of two feuding players.

by MC2 :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:42pm

Being white keeps you from being penalized? Tell that to Richie Incognito. In his four years with the Rams, Incognito was the most frequently penalized player in the league. Maybe he was wearing blackface during those games?