For someone who has never been officially employed by the New England Patriots, Alex Guerrero has become a big figure in the Patriots’ dynasty.
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald wrote that coach Bill Belichick “chastised” Gronkowski for being a client of TB12, the sports therapy center that Brady uses and was co-founded by Guerrero, in front of the other Patriots players last season. Guregian speculated that perhaps that was Belichick’s way of keeping all players from leaving the team’s training staff for Guerrero, and it might be the source of friction between the Patriots and Gronkowski, who still hasn’t officially said he won’t retire (though there’s no clear sign he’ll step away this offseason). NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran said earlier this offseason Gronkowski felt “singled out” over the Guerrero issue. Mike Giardi of NBC Sports Boston said Brady and Gronkowski were “miserable” last season and a lot of it was over the Guerrero issue.
The Guerrero-Belichick dynamic isn’t new. Last season, Guerrero had his sideline access revoked and was told he couldn’t treat players other than Brady at the team’s headquarters anymore. The memorable and explosive ESPN story about the tension between Brady, Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft in early January spent a lot of time on Guerrero. In the story, his presence was seen as being divisive among players. They didn’t know whether to use Guerrero or the team’s medical and training staff.
And Gronkowski is in that web too.
Gronkowski expressed after the Super Bowl that he might retire. Since then, speculation has gone in many directions, mostly because Gronkowski hasn’t really said anything and the Patriots never say anything substantial. Gronkowski has taken a lot of punishment in his career, and that probably weighs on him. Perhaps he wants a pay raise, and that would fix everything. We’ve seen offseason drama get fixed very easily with money. But it seems there are some issues between the team and its star tight end. None of the drama mattered much last season, as the Patriots came a couple minutes away from winning another Super Bowl. Belichick calls out players all the time, that has been well established. But the Guerrero issue seems to be looming over the Patriots longer than most people could have assumed.
Perhaps this is just another offseason story and it won’t ultimately matter to how long Gronkowski plays or how many games the Patriots win. But if Gronkowski ends up retiring still within his prime, whether that’s this offseason or a couple years from now, there will be interesting questions about what drove him away.
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