New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has become the best in the NFL at his position. But the image of Gronkowski is that of someone who cares little about his job. That’s because for the second straight year after suffering an injury, Gronkowski has been caught on video using his injured part shortly after the injury.
The biggest story heading into Super Bowl XLVI was the status of Gronkowski’s ankle. The injury was a deciding factor for many as to who would win the game. Gronkowski played the game against the New York Giants with the pain in his ankle. But later that night video surfaced of the star tight end dancing in an Indianapolis night club on the injured ankle following the loss. It led many to question both the severity of the injury and how much he actually cared about the game.
With the backlash that came from the incident it would seem that both the Patriots and Gronkowski would not make that kind of public relations mistake again.
But he has. In week 11 against the Indianapolis Colts, Gronkowski broke his forearm. After being sidelined for five weeks, Gronkowski returned for the team’s final regular season game.
Three weeks later in the AFC championship game, Gronkowski dove for a deep pass during the Patriots first drive. He landed on the previously injured forearm breaking for the second time. The injury took him out of the game, which the Patriots would go on to lose, and required surgery.
With this latest injury and the backlash that came from his carousing last year, it would seem as though the star would take it easier knowing that people would be looking for him to do that same. The increased spotlight on him doesn’t seem to have made a difference. On Sunday, Gronkowski spent the night in Las Vegas, and video has surfaced of him in a night club dancing and apparently performing a wrestling move which saw his broken forearm, still in a cast, bounce off the floor.
For both Gronkowski and the Patriots this is a public relations problem. Gronkowski is now seen as someone not bothered by losing or concerned with rehabbing an injury. These last two incidents bring questions into the Patriots decision to reward Gronkowski last season with a six-year, $54 million contract extension. If the player doesn’t take care of himself, he could spend much of those six years on the sidelines.
People may have shrugged off the first incident as a young man making a mistake but seeing it happen again, many will deem Gronkowski a habitual nuisance. Now is the time Gronkowski must change this. Last season he following his post Super Bowl stunt by gallivanting around all summer showing up on television shows and partying seemingly non-stop. This summer, he needs to work hard to get back healthy and show that he’s serious about his craft.
For both the Patriots’ sake and his own.