Two things we know about New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski: He's one of the most prolific receivers in the NFL, and he's a bit of an oddball. There have been enough calls of "Gronk being Gronk" from his teammates to let you know that generally, the franchise is more than willing to deal with the player's eccentricities because of the work he does on the field.
As Wes Welker told Shutdown Corner last year, "He's just one of those guys -- he's funny, and he's just being himself. We always tell him, 'Dude, don't change for anything.' It's pretty comical to watch. I encourage it a little too much, I must admit. Believe it or not, he's a pretty intelligent guy. He does a good job of being in the plays for the coaches, and he's so physically gifted, that he's able to make some plays for us."
True, but Gronk was shut down in the second half of the 2012 season when he broke his left forearm not once, but twice -- first, in a Week 11 win over the Indianapolis Colts, and again in the divisional-round victory over the Houston Texans.
"Two breaks, because I'm crazy," Gronkowski told me from Radio Row last week. "Freak accident, man. It's frustrating when stuff like that happens, because you can't do anything about it. Now, the only thing I can do is rehab it, get it stronger, and get it 100 percent for next year."
Nice thought, but according to TMZ, Gronk was doing something else on Monday in Las Vegas -- dancing in a nightclub, and smacking his arm on the floor in a goofy simulated wrestling match. He got up seemingly unhurt, but one can only imagine the grumblings going on in Bill Belichick's head while watching that.
Gronkowski was criticized after the Patriots lost Super Bowl XLVI because he was gallivanting around, and some took that to mean that he didn't take the loss seriously enough. I thought that criticism was pretty baseless, but this is a bit different. Gronkowski signed a $54 million contract extension in the 2012 season, and there's no doubt the Pats are much, much better when he's on the field.
Per ESPN's Stats and Info, New England's completion percentage dropped from 65.7 to 58.4 without the talented tight end in the game, the Pats' yards per play dipped from 6.0 to 5.4, and the team's touchdown-to-interception ratio tumbled from 23-3 to 11-6. That's why the team accepts Gronkowski's "differences," but it's also why he needs to step up and accept a certain level of responsibility.
Nobody's saying that he shouldn't have a good time -- the world is Rob Gronkowski's oyster, and deservedly so. But this should be a bit of a wake-up call for him.
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