New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon. It didn’t happen on a spectacular touchdown play that immediately preceded his famous Gronk-spike celebration move.
It didn’t happen while laying out a dude in a vicious open-field block to allow a teammate to get downfield untouched.
Instead, it happened on an extra-point attempt to put the Patriots up 59-24 in the fourth quarter. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk examines the doubt directed toward Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, regarding the use of his star player in a situation that did not necessarily require his services.
Tom Brady was still throwing passes halfway through the fourth quarter with New England up 28 points. If Belichick was going to keep Brady in the game, Gronkowski certainly wasn’t going to get special treatment—and he shouldn’t have.
His injury was unfortunate, but the fact of the matter is that the situation in which he was injured was a routine play. The score didn’t entice an Indianapolis defender to try to take Gronkowski out of the game in a dirty or illegal manner.
Gronkowski didn’t even end the play on the ground.
If it was obvious that a frustrated Colts player decided to take a shot at the Patriots star because the score was out of hand, that would be an entirely different situation. The blame for Gronkowski’s injury would still be placed upon the shoulders of the offending player for intent to injure, not the Patriots' coaching staff for putting Gronkowski in a situation where he might be hurt.
That happens every time he steps on the football field.
Injuries are a part of the game, and teams have a finite number of substitution options. Despite the fact that New England’s approach to late-game offense while on the good side of a blowout is off-putting to some fans, Belichick and his staff should not be held culpable for Gronkowski’s broken forearm.
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