ANYWHERE BUT FOXBOROUGH — Gronk Breaks Arm.
Stop the presses.
Life as we know it, is over.
How will we carry on?
There was considerable hysteria in our small region Monday as news leaked that Patriots All-World tight end Rob Gronkowski had surgery for a broken left forearm, an injury sustained in a meaningless moment at the end of Sunday’s blowout against the Indianapolis Colts.
Patriot haters (a vast group no doubt enlarged and emboldened by the insipid booing of franchise-saver Adam Vinatieri) will have a field day with this one. They will say that it’s football karma at work, punishing mean Bill Belichick for running up the score against the Colts. Gronk was hurt on that crucial extra-point attempt that gave the Patriots a franchise-record-tying 59th point . . . with the Patriots leading by five touchdowns . . . with less than four minutes to play.
There you go. Gronk didn’t need to be on the field and the grid god got even, breaking the bone of New England’s Sub Zero superstar.
After stiff-arming the regular media during a skull-imploding, “let’s insult everybody’s intelligence” non-interview/conference call Monday afternoon, Belichick defended the late-game strategy in his contractually obligated radio interview. His Hoodiness correctly suggested that it’s not a good idea to make selective substitutions late in a blowout.
“I don’t think that’s really a good way to approach a team,’’ Belichick said. “I’ve never done that. I don’t think that would be a very successful approach to it. Somebody’s got to play. I think you’ve got to be careful when you’re trying to run a team, to go up to one guy and say, ‘Michael, we’re going to leave you in the game because we care about you, but Glenn, we’re going to take you out because you’re really important. You other guys go in there because if something happens to you, we don’t really care.’ ’’
He’s right, of course. Players play. This is the NFL. It’s the Colts’ job to stop the Patriots, not cry about running up the score. But this leaves any coach open to second-guessing because while the Patriots party on and enjoy their spike routines in the end zone, there’s always a possibility somebody will get hurt.
This time it was Gronk . . . we think.
It’s not certain because the Patriots refuse to publicly acknowledge that Gronk is hurt.
In Sunday’s rout of the Colts, Gronk caught seven passes for 137 yards. He had a pair of TD catches, which makes him the first tight end in NFL history with three consecutive seasons of 10 or more touchdown receptions. We think Gronk broke his arm blocking for an extra point attempt that made it 59-24 with 3:55 left on the clock. And we think he had surgery Monday morning and might be back in time for San Francisco, or even Houston. In the meantime they can go with Aaron Hernandez (coming back from an ankle injury), Visanthe Shiancoe, Daniel Fells, or Michael Hoomanawanui.
But we can’t go there yet because the Patriots haven’t even acknowledged the injury.
Here’s part of the transcript from Bill’s Monday presser:
Q: Has Rob Gronkowski had surgery today?
A: As I said, I really haven’t met with our doctors and trainers yet today. I do that at the end of the day. I don’t have any updates. Whatever the injury information is, we’ll release it in a timely fashion, when we’re required by the league, just like we always do.
There it is again, people. That’s Bill flipping off the NFL. And you love him for it.
There’s no competitive advantage to this. I mean, do we really think the New York Jets are game-planning for Gronk, and will be stunned Thursday night when the big fella fails to dress for the game?
Of course not. This is just Bill Being Bill. Ask him if today is Tuesday and, unless he is contractually obligated to answer, he’ll say something like, “Well, traditionally, Tuesday is the day after Monday — the day before Wednesday — but I have not spoken with our calendar people. Whatever the day is, we’ll release that information in a timely fashion, when we’re required by the league, just like we always do.’’
The range of stupidity here is vast. Belichick stonewalls just because he can. Fans who love information — the same people who listen to talk radio and watch sports programming 24/7 — applaud madly when no information is supplied. And before too long somebody’s going to say, “Damn that Gronk. He’s hurt again? Who does he think he is, Jacoby Ellsbury?’’
Me? I will engage in none of the above. I will just sit and wonder if once, just once, Bob and Jonathan Kraft can abandon the lifeguard chairs and sit on the same level as everyone else in their row. I mean, really now. Henry Kissinger was sitting at the right knee of Bob Kraft Sunday. For the whole game. Henry must have been honored when Bob leaned down and offered him some mixed nuts.
A little respect for Mr. Kissinger, please. He made his bones in the Nixon White House. If anyone understands the Patriot Way, it’s Henry Kissinger. He worked for the man who invented public stonewalling.
Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.