Give Rob Gronkowski a break

Posted by Zuri Berry, Staff  February 10, 2012 05:44 PM

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Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has caught a lot of flak for his post Super Bowl activities. (Stan Grossfeld / Globe Staff)

After the Patriots lost to the New York Giants 21-17 in the Super Bowl, it's more than conceivable that fans would want to blow off some steam.

Whether that was on message boards, blogs and elsewhere, there were a number of rants to be made on the demise of Tom Brady and company. One would only have to turn to their left and then to their right to get varying opinions on the outcome. And frankly, blaming it on Brady, Wes Welker or whoever else is your choosing. But in the aftermath of a loss with this magnitude, it appears that some venting is entirely without merit. Particularly, how the Patriots deal with a loss.

For Brady, it meant draping his heads in a towel for minutes on end to digest the previous 60. For Welker, it meant borderline crying in front of strangers when having to explain what his drop meant for his team. For Brandon Spikes, it meant walking into a room full of reporters with shades over his eyes, desperately trying to hide his emotions. For others, it meant ducking the media.

But for Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots tight end who for two weeks had the most famous ankle in the world, it meant going dancing shirtless.

Context, please!

After finishing his second NFL season with the most dominant display a tight end has ever put forth (90 catches, 1,327 yards, 18 touchdowns), Gronkowski went out partying post XLVI. Without hesitation, he was ripped mercilessly by former players (Rodney Harrison) and pundits alike. The general consensus of the folks in the "Gronk can't party because he lost crowd" is pretty simple. Partying after a loss gives off the perception that an athlete does not take the loss as seriously as, say, Brady. But this isn't grounded in anything other than spite. Not one person can lay claim to know how Gronkowski feels. Not you, not I. And yet, the perception remains despite overbearing evidence to explain Gronkowski's actions post-Super Sunday.

Gronkowski was out doing exactly what most 22-year-olds would do after bitterly going on vacation for six months. Given the nature of the video, the way he sloppily grooved back and forth, and, yes, his lack of clothing, there is some probable cause to believe that Gronkowski was imbibing. (Is anybody even arguing it?)

Forget the setting and circumstance for a moment. The real question for Gronkowski is why get hammered? Why, for generations of young men, do they turn to alcohol to cope with something depressing like a Super Bowl loss?

Before this starts to sound like a pamphlet for your local AA, remember the circumstances of the professional athlete. There's the public persona, the voluntary and involuntary privacy, the pressure of playing in the National Football League, and then the responsibility that comes with it all. Now understand, sans camera, that no one would question how Gronkowski felt about losing to the Giants. Instead, you and I would point to his postgame interview, judge his demeanor in answering those questions (he was sullen) and then conclude what most in Indianapolis observed long before any video leaked, that No. 87 was upset like the rest of the Patriots.

Is it all the more salacious that he was out and about shirtless? Yes. Of course it is. Does it matter? No, not in the least bit. In seeing Gronk bop back and forth, slaphappy, one could see the reigns being loosened on the 6-foot-6 tight end. He looked like a guy who hadn't had a drink in months. And being of his age, he looked at home on stage with LMFAO, relaxed for once. Cut him some slack. After his surgery, he's going to be on the sofa for awhile.

I'm more worried about his dance moves.

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