Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports

NFL suspends Rob Gronkowski one game for late hit against Bills

Alex Reimer
December 04, 2017 - 3:34 pm

The NFL is suspending Rob Gronkowski one game for his late hit on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White.

In a press release Monday, the league said Gronkowski committed multiple rule violations, including unnecessary roughness. The Patriots tight end has also been charged with initiating contact against a defenseless player. White was on the ground when Gronkowski struck him in the back of the helmet.

Gronkowski plans to appeal the suspension, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter

According to the Boston Globe's Ben Volin, Gronkowski's suspension starts immediately. He won't be allowed to participate in football activities with the team prior to its matchup next Monday night against the Dolphins.

The key lines in the press release come from NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan, who wrote the following in a letter to Gronkowski: "Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at serious risk of injury. The Competiton Committee has clearly expressed its goal of 'eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game.' Those hits include the play you were involved in yesterday."

The altercation came late in the fourth quarter after White had intercepted Tom Brady. The rookie corner appeared to hold Gronkowski multiple times on the play. Earlier in the game, Gronkowski was flagged for a questionable offensive pass interference call. He expressed his displeasure with the officiating afterwards.

“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,” he 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.”

Gronkowski also apologized to White, saying he’s “not in the business” of delivering cheap shots. Bill Belichick was heard telling Bills coach Sean McDermott the play was “b*******.” 

The NFL’s one-game suspension for Gronkowski is in line with how it's handled other objectionable hits this season. Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan, Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree were all forced to miss one game after head shots or illegal post-play contact. (Talib's and Crabtree's suspensions were reduced from two games to one after their appeals.) 

Gronkowski has been fined three times in his career, including once for unnecessary roughness against then-Colts safety Sergio Brown in 2014.

This post has been updated. 

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