Bill Belichick was asked Monday morning to detail what he needs to see on the football side in order to clear Rob Gronkowski. Surprisingly, Belichick was relatively candid. “I would say there are a lot of things that go into it, a combination obviously of medical clearance and making up the active roster for the 46 guys,” Belichick explained via conference call. “Each week, we go through the process with all the players and do what we feel like is best for the team. Obviously medical considerations are a big part of it, so we’ll do that with every player.”
Asked if the fact Gronkowski is practicing consistently but not playing, Belichick said, “We have 53 players on the team. There’s some element of that every week.”
The practice aspect of things, Belichick said, is information for him but the decision to play is not football-based. “Ultimately the players have to be cleared medically before we can put them in the game,” Belichick explained. “There are a lot of players that practice that aren’t ready to play yet, but they’re ready to participate in practice. That’s pretty common.”
Behind-the-scenes wrangling over whether Gronkowski should be playing has been masked by public insistence that all doctors, the team and Gronkowski Inc. shareholders are on the same page. Even if they are, the urgent curiosity over when he’ll play has muddied the waters enough to indicate there is acrimony.
Until he plays, the speculation over who is holding Gronk out, for how long, and whether his not playing is reasonable will continue.
- Tom Curran, CSN New England