Rodney Harrison, looking suspiciously like someone at a ... party? (Getty Images)
Former San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who won two Super Bowl rings with the Pats in 2003 and 2004 and parlayed that into his current role as an NFL analyst for NBC, had some not-so-kind things to say about current Pats tight Rob Gronkowski, who was not sufficiently mopey after his team lost last Sunday's Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
You see, young Mr. Gronkowski had the unfettered nerve to take his shirt off and dance -- DANCE! -- during the team's post-Super Bowl party, and that really rubbed Harrison the wrong way. When he went on Chicago's "Waddle and Silvy" show, Harrison did what he used to do as a player -- he unloaded on the tight end.
"I guarantee you this, if Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Larry Izzo, Richard Seymour or myself had been at that party, [Gronkowski] probably would have got his head rung. There's no reason for that to happen.
"When we lost the Super Bowl, any of my Super Bowl losses, I was so devastated the last thing I ever wanted to do was party, let alone dance or take off your shirt. It's just immaturity. It's not right. He made a mistake and I'm sure he feels absolutely stupid about it at this point. There's a time and place for everything."
Harrison, who also admitted that he hadn't actually seen the video of Gronkowski dancing, lost two Super Bowls -- XXIX with the San Diego Chargers to Steve Young's San Francisco 49ers at the end of the 1994 season, and XLII with the Patriots to these Giants four years ago. Of course, Harrison was the defender on the famous David Tyree helmet catch that allowed the Giants to continue their game-winning drive. So, he's felt the sting of those losses.
"The leadership has to step up and someone has to pull [Gronkowski] to the side and say, 'Look young man, this is inappropriate, this is not the time nor the place. You need to grow up,'" Harrison said. "And that's what it comes down to. I like this kid. I think he's a good kid, works hard, is unselfish. But he made a mistake ...
"There's a certain way of representing yourself and your family and that's not the right way."
Yes, Gronkowski should be taken aside by a veteran leader like ... left tackle Matt Light, who ... oh, wait a minute. Light was dancing at the party, too? Well, why does he get a pass in Mr. Harrison's tirade?
According to the Boston Herald, Light was in a celebratory mood. The horror of it all! "I tell you what, if ever there was a time to raise your glasses it's right now," he apparently had the temerity to say. "We're gonna toast to the greatest organization in the NFL. It's time to toast the 2011 New England Patriots."
Harrison's reaction is a bit understandable given his circumstances -- he lost that early shot at the Lombardi, and he went from the Chargers to the Patriots after the 2002 season precisely to get another chance. And given where he was in his career, he had to understand that if it didn't happen in Foxboro, it probably wasn't going to happen for him anywhere. Those losses felt more like professional deaths.
But what Harrison probably needs to try and understand is that Gronkowski is a spectacularly talented player at the end of his second NFL season, who played as well as he possibly could through a high ankle sprain in the Super Bowl. Gronkowski has been through two NFL seasons -- one in which the Pats went 14-2, and another in which they went 13-3. He's probably thinking that with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at the helm of this team, he's got a good shot at two or three more Super Bowls in the next five years -- and he might be absolutely right.
People deal with this stuff in their own ways. And for Rodney Harrison to assume that everyone should take it on as he did, even under entirely different circumstances, is presumptuous in the extreme.
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- Rodney Harrison
- New England Patriots
- Rob Gronkowski
- San Diego Chargers