Gronk Needs Back Surgery & I Want To Cry

Taylor McCloud — Pats Militia

Do you know what it’s like to get the news that Rob Gronkowski, the best tight end in the NFL, and your favorite team’s (arguably) most important player, is out for up to two months because of back surgery while surrounded by centuries-old medieval literature?

Well I do.

Now, you must be wondering, how do I know what that’s like? BECAUSE IT JUST HAPPENED TO ME. THAT’S HOW.

Seriously, I was sitting there in this room full of these crusty books and a kid looks over at me and yells “Hey Taylor! Gronk’s done!” and I was immediately crushed. Heart blown into goddamn smithereens. Threw up the hoodie, tied the strings tight, and bolted out of there.

It’s chicken tender Thursday here at Syracuse so I stopped my sprint at the dining hall to grab some (a million) of those golden-brown delicacies because I knew this would be a tough blog to write. But even those couldn’t help me deal with this. I ate those chicken tenders so fast and so angrily that I got zero enjoyment from it, and let me tell you I fucking LOVE chicken tenders.

But that’s besides the point, because the reason I’m writing this is because the most dangerous weapon in the NFL needs to have back surgery and the Patriots’ Super Bowl chances don’t look as good as they did just a couple of hours ago.

I wrote after Sunday’s game that this Gronk injury scared me. He got drilled against Seattle and it was reported that he was having some chest issues. That bothered me, but I wasn’t that concerned. However, when the report came in that he left this Sunday’s game because of a back injury, my heart dropped.

Gronk missed his entire junior season of college because of back surgery and had undergone two more operations earlier in his pro career. So, the second I heard it was his back, the voice in the back of my head told me this was bad. I saw some reports that said he wasn’t expected to miss time because of it, but I had my suspicions, and just now, they came to fruition.

I don’t really want to open the can of worms that is his injury history, but it’s hard not to. Since entering the league in 2010, Gronkowski has missed eighteen games because he’s been hurt. Yes, he’s lead the league in touchdown receptions in that time as well, but it’s just a reminder of how impactful he is for the Patriots.

Do I think they’ll succeed without him? Of course. They’ve got the best quarterback and they’ve got the best coach, along with a pretty serviceable replacement in Martellus Bennett. But even factoring in those guys, this is huge. Absolutely huge.

When Gronk was hobbled with an ankle injury in the 2011-12 season, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl on a last second hail mary attempt that I am convinced #87 would have caught if he had been 100% healthy. Then, in 2012-13, with Gronk out because of a broken arm, the Pats dropped the AFC Title Game to the Baltimore Ravens. Finally, in 2013-14, the season Gronk tore his ACL, the Patriots went to Denver and dropped their second consecutive AFC Championship Game, that time to the Broncos. But in 2014-15, when the Patriots were able to keep Gronkowski healthy, when he stayed on the field, the Patriots won the Super Bowl. They did it; they climbed the mountain and planted the Flying Elvis right on top.

And that was the hope for this year. After a disappointing, injury-filled, 2015-16 season, the Patriots looked ready to make yet another run at the Lombardi Trophy. Brady had to serve his suspension, and some guys had to shake off the cobwebs, but this was supposed to be the year. I’m not doubting that it still can be, I have complete faith in this team, it just looks a lot more bleak now than it did just a little while ago.

I’m sorry if this blog is incoherent, or tough to get through, but this news is horrible. Not only does this affect the Patriots, but the whole league. Rob Gronkowski is clearly the best tight end in the league, and a once-in-a-generation talent. He’s missed so much time already and this new injury just robs both him, and the league, from having him out there on the field.

I want to end this with some positive, silver-lining type paragraph, but I don’t think I can. Yeah we’ve got Brady and yeah, we’ve got Belichick and yada yada yada see you in Houston, but I’m very concerned. Not just for this season, but for the rest of Gronk’s career. Like I said, this isn’t his first rodeo with back injuries. They’ve plagued him for his whole career and at some point, you’ve got to wonder how much more punishment he wants to put his body through. Though, I don’t really want to think like that. I said I  couldn’t muster a silver lining, but writing that part about him being done for good just shook me to the core, so I’m done thinking like that. I’ll just resort to #PrayingForGronk


Godspeed, Gronk, and Go Pats.





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