Up to this point in his professional life, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski has been able to do just about anything he put his mind and efforts into doing.
He’s been an NFL Champion, a television analyst, actor and even a professional wrestling champion. According to ESPN’s Diana Russini however, there are some who think what he won’t be, is a comeback player of the year candidate.
Appearing on the network’s “Get Up” program, Russini said,
“In terms of concern for him being a threat — from what I can gather in my conversations (with NFL defensive coordinators) — it’s not a high priority. They know that he’s vertical, he’s long. He’s going to run those seams.”
What has these coordinators unconcerned with the return of ‘Gronk’ is his injury history. After joining the New England Patriots in 2010, Gronkowski played in all sixteen game in both his rookie and sophomore seasons. Since then, he’s played in as many as fifteen, just twice.
In 2013 and 2016, Gronkowski didn’t play in half or more of his team’s regular season outings. However, and this is the point I think those who aren’t concerned might be missing, when he is on the field he’s been the best tight end in the game.
Now, Travis Kelce certainly has gained a lot of ground toward claiming the mantle of best tight end, and there are others who could potentially join the debate if necessary. The point remains though, in each of Gronkowski’s seasons except for two - his rookie season and his last year in 2018 - the tight end has had a per game average more than suitable to project to a 1,000-yard receiving performance.
Even in his thirteen game 2018 season, Gronkowski finished with 682 receiving yards, on pace for 840. This coming in the season Russini said those coordinators used as evidence, “Gronk was breaking down...”
I’ll have to admit to agreeing the thought of Gronkowski’s days in the NFL being numbered during the 2018 season crossed my mind as well. Which is unfortunate when you think about how hard he - and all players for that matter - work to make it that level. But a year off and away from the game has allowed him to heal, and to re-energize about the game of football.
To me, those unnamed coordinators might not be wrong about 2018 Gronkowski - the 682-yards and three touchdown receiving Gronkowski - but they better not underestimate him as he gets back to work. Tom Brady might be the one carrying the chip on his shoulder, but his trusted tight end is no slouch himself, and is preparing to do everything necessary to turn that chip, into a champion - again.