A few hundred years ago when I was in the newspaper business, we used to joke about the week after the Super Bowl being the slowest of the year.
Unless, of course, in you're in a city that won a Super Bowl, lost a Super Bowl, missed the Super Bowl by losing the AFC Championship Game at home, or sent the truck to Fort Myers.
Not to mention the Beanpot, which used to be several weeks after the Super Bowl back in the day.
The latest Rob Gronkowski video has left some Patriots' fans questioning WTF is up with this guy. TMZ caught him dancing shirtless at a Super Bowl afterparty - this time it was in Las Vegas and not in Indianapolis. This time - he tried to lift a dance partner, fell back and landed on his broken left arm.
Gonk - as he will forever be known in these parts thanks to Mayor Menino - is a 6-foot-6, 265-pound, 23-year-old monster of an athlete who likes to party. He lives the lifestyle of a 23-year-old athlete who likes to party exactly as Hollywood would present it. He is exactly what we think he should be. All public signs show he's a decent person and does more than his share of charity work, like many other pro athletes. And there's no doubt about his heart.
RT " @chrisviolette how about a shout out for my unit that just left for Afghanistan! 4th Brigade Infantry out of Ft. Lewisâ€ť S/O to y'all!!— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) November 28, 2012
But how many of us want to see photos of Gonk visiting the sick kids at a local hospital? That image of Gronkowski doesn't fit into the "Yo soy fiesta" brand.
Gronkowski is no dummy, even though he plays one on TV. When he takes his shirt off with a porn star, at a post-Super Bowl bash, partying with kids in Baton Rouge or whooping it up in Vegas the other night, he knows someone - everyone - is watching. Whenever one of these images or video "leaks" out, you hear little blowblack from his camp. Think about it. Has his image really been harmed by what we've seen in the past week? Some fans are upset - thinking he might have put himself at greater physical risk by trying his impromptu audition for "Dancing With the Stars." But even my dog knows not to lean into his injured paw until it's healed. There's a stronger case to be made against the recklessness of having your team score a touchdown and running up the score while leading 52-24 when you could have just sat on the ball, and sending in Gronkowski to block on an extra point, than there was in Gronkowski trying his dance flip.
TMZ never caught J.D. Drew partying in Vegas or with his shirt off and beer in his hand. Yet the oft-injured Drew only played 127 games in 2010, 124 in 2009 and 105 in 2008. All the while, he collected every dime of his five-year, $70 million contract. In 2011, Drew went on the DL with a "shoulder impingement." Gronk was probably born with two of those. The point - what you do off the field in a night club has little effect on your playing status - unless your name is Plaxico Burress.
Gronkowski is part of a football culture that demands 100 percent all-out effort all the time. Some 23-year-old athletes are more mature than others. They can separate life off the field from life on it. Right now, it appears Gronkowski cannot. If he gets a talking-to from one of his veteran teammates, that might help the education process. His family remains insulated.
But do Patriots' fans really want Gronk to change? He has no record of drunk driving, physical abuse or criminal behavior. They re-tweet, Facebook post and e-mail links about his latest antics to anyone they know with an inbox. He's the PG-rated party guy who our kids can love. Remember, Bibi kept her shirt on. If Gronkowski's injuries are so severe that he can't play in September, it's not likely that a dance move would have made any difference. His injury against the Texans in the AFC playoffs was plain, dumb luck. There's nothing fake about Gronkowski, which is all too rare these days (says the guy who writes under a pseudonym with photo wearing a pair of sunglasses). Unlike Lennay Kekua, I do actually exist. And this column is as sincere as Gronkowski when it comes game time. And we both know a little about coming back from injuries.
I'll take Gronkowski's partying over Ray Lewis' piety any day.
History and humanity tell us that the hard-drinking, hard-living lifestyle is much easier to sustain at age 23 than it is at age 28, 30 or 33. Aside from the broken arm, there was nothing evident in Gronkowski's play last season that he was letting up or not going all out on every play. Sadly, we cannot say the same thing about our beloved quarterback. If Gronkowski continues to live like this, his play will inevitably slip and his value will diminish. Again, this is where his teammates would come into play. They can speak from first-hand experience from what they've seen from other athletes. There are no John Lackeys (or at least a pre-2013 emaciated John Lackey) in the NFL. You produce or you get cut. And the salary cap complications from his long-term deal would be dealt with as needed.
My son is the same age as Dougie Hamilton. That means a couple of things. One, I'm old. Two, I look at some of these athletes as a father would with his son. If Gonk was my son, I'd ask my wife: "Who was his father?" Then, I'd tell him to slow it down. Of course, I would have told him that last year and during his days in college. But that's me. Gordie Gronkowski has three sons in the NFL and he's chosen a different course with his kids. Something must be working since he has three sons in the NFL. It's not my place to judge his parenting. Nor would I listen to him if he questioned the risk my son is taking when he joins the U.S. Army following his graduation from college in three years.
Gonk is a joy when he's being interviewed. Check out his interview on Felger and Mazz last week. Can you imagine the crushing disappointment in all of us he had said: "You know, with all those injuries, I think I'll be slowing things down a bit next season."
Think blinding outrage not seen since Wes Welker's last drop.
As noted here before the season, Gonk's antics will continue to play well in these parts as long as he continues to score touchdowns and spike the ball. When he was healthy, Gronkowski has done nothing to lessen his value to the Patriots. Gronkowski rolled into 2012 with 12 catches and a pair of touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season coming off an ankle injury. He caught two balls with one arm for 42 yards against the Dolphins in Week 17 before ending his season against the Texans. And in the toughest regular-season games this season he did well. Against the Seahawks (6 catches, 61 yards), and Jets in October (6 catches, 78 yards, 2 TDs) he made major contributions. Against the Ravens in September, he was only targeted three times but caught two of those balls for 21 yards. In all, Gronkowski was targeted 79 times in the regular season (a drop from 124 times in 2011), but still managed 55 catches and 11 touchdowns.
One touchdown every five catches.
Pretty good numbers.
When that stops, so will Gonk's party.
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