Jan 22, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski reacts after defeating the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 in the 2011 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
All New England Patriots fans were elated at the start of the week to hear that star TE Rob Gronkowski was finally cleared to play and would likely take the field for the first time this season on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Gronkowski’s last time on the field was his brief appearance in the AFC Divisional Game of the playoffs against the Houston Texans, where he re-broke his repaired forearm. The fans’ elation turned to confusion and then dismay as Gronk’s status went from optimistic to questionable, and now he’s unlikely to suit up for Sunday’s game. Despite his many surgeries during the off-season, surely he should be back by now, right?
That’s what the Patriots organization thought as well, or they would have placed him on the PUP list to start the season. Players on the PUP list are eligible to return after week 6, but the Patriots thought he would be ready by week 3. This Sunday marks week 6 of the 2013 season, though, and still no Gronk sighting despite the fact he has been practicing for a while. While the team has actually cleared Gronkowski to play, the delay of his return is self-imposed. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, uses Dr. James Andrews for second opinions and he hasn’t yet cleared Gronkowski. It is interesting to note that Dr. Andrews is a knee surgeon, not an arm or back specialist relating to Gronk’s surgeries.
Nov 18, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) reacts after his touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 59-24. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
As frustrating as it is to wonder when he will eventually take the field while watching the current offense struggle, his delay should be for the best. It’s obvious that he is fragile, and rushing his return just to have him re-injured would be devastating. If he doesn’t feel 100% ready to return, he shouldn’t step on the field. Think about it this way, when you’re sick you understand how you feel more accurately than your doctor does because you’re the one hurting. Your doctor may tell you it’s alright to return to work, but if you’re still in pain you have to decide for yourself whether or not you should. We should just trust that he knows his body and is doing all he can to heal properly for good. If delaying his return one more week means he will be present and healthy during the rest of the season and the playoffs, it will be absolutely worth it.