Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports

Reimer: Anti-Patriots media unfairly paint Rob Gronkowski's late hit as crime against humanity

Alex Reimer
December 04, 2017 - 11:49 am

Rob Gronkowski deserves to be suspended for his late hit on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White. It was a cheap shot, which Bill Belichick correctly categorized with an eight-letter expletive in his postgame apology to Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott. 

The perpetrators of the two other most notable post-play altercations this season were all forced to sit for one game. Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans missed one contest for shoving Saints corner Marshon Lattimore, and Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree were both banished to the bench the week following their brawl over Talib's gold chain thievery. (Talib's and Crabtree's suspensions were reduced from two games to one following their appeals.) 

Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan, who knocked out Packers wideout Davante Adams with a helmet-to-helmet in September, missed one game as well. 

What separates Gronkowski from those three, however, is where he decided to target White. Gronk leveled White with an elbow in the back of his helmet. The rookie defensive back left to be evaluated for a head injury. In today’s day and age, hits to the head are rightfully taken more seriously than shots to other parts of the body. Gronkowski is deserving of scorn. 

But the beating he’s taken nationally is unfair. Most articles written about Gronk's late hit leave out the context, making it appear as if Gronkowski targeted White for no reason whatsoever. In fact, that’s almost exactly what Deadspin wrote

“After an interception from Tre’Davious White, Gronkowski ran up and, for no particular reason, decided to plow his elbow into the back of White’s helmet while the defender was still on the ground,” says Lauren Theisen.

That’s completely wrong. On the previous play, White was physical with Gronk, holding him at least twice. White was not penalized. 

Gronkowski’s frustration with the officiating has been building all season, if not for several years. He’s routinely flagged for offensive pass interference, even though defenders often get away with illegally holding or bumping him. In fact, he was flagged for an objectionable OPI in the first half Sunday. Even Tony Romo said the call was “pretty weak.”

After the game, Gronkowski, who apologized to White, expressed his anger towards the way he’s treated. 

“At the top of the route, it felt like it was a big hole at the top and then the throw was definitely -- I mean, I felt like he kind of pushed me a little bit and made the play and I just don't understand why there wasn't a flag" Gronkowski told reporters, per WEEI's Ryan Hannable. "It was a couple of times in the game, and they're calling me for the craziest stuff ever -- and it is crazy. Like, what am I supposed to do? And then they don't call that. It was just frustration and that is what happened.”

So, no: Gronkowski did not attack White for “no particular reason.” His frustration with the officiating isn’t an excuse, but it’s an explanation. 

Unsurprisingly, First Take's Max Kellerman left out those details during his Gronkowski diatribe Monday. Kellerman said the hit is another example of Gronkowski getting away with discretions that others wouldn't. 

Yeah, because nobody is talking about Gronkowski today. 

Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski also omits all of the background in his evisceration of Gronk. Sobleski says the Patriots tight end is the “dirtiest player in the game.” 

He also chastises Tom Brady for screaming at offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on the sidelines, saying Brady can be “too demanding” of his coaches and teammates. 

But at least Kellerman and Bleacher Report aren't calling for Gronkowski’s arrest. That's up to writer Shaun King. In a tweet Sunday, King said Gronkowski “should” be charged with assault for damaging White’s brain. 

King could make those demands whenever a football player hits somebody after the play, of course. But he probably recognizes different standards apply on the gridiron. Except for Gronkowski, apparently. 

It’s understandable why the rest of the country enjoys piling on the Patriots. We used to feel the same way about the Yankees. But it’s disingenuous to leave out the context. Gronkowski’s cheap shot was dumb and reckless. Or, in other words, something that happens routinely throughout the NFL season. It was not a crime against humanity. 

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