Gronkowski’s Concussion Comments Concerning, But Overblown

Rob Gronkowski doesn’t go long without finding his way into the news, usually for doing or saying something outrageous. He’s clearly a fun-loving guy who knows how ridiculous he can be and just eats it up.

The other day on Jim Rome, he picked up a pinata and spiked it, with candy flying everywhere. For him, that’s just a pretty typical Wednesday night.

What made the news—though the pinata spike video is awesome—was what he said about concussions. Specifically, this part:

“…with a concussion I’ll just wake up and I’ll be ready to go again.”

With all of the talk surrounding brain injuries, concussions and CTE, Gronk’s comment comes across as both very oldschool and very uniformed. It sounds like he’s dismissing something that has been linked to memory loss and even suicide as if it’s nothing. In fact, when asked about the impact of memory loss, Gronk said this:

“…that happens all the time. I don’t even know how I got to my hotel last night.”

That’s a hilariously Gronk-style answer, but it also diminishes the issue, making it sounds like the lingering effects of CTE are little more than a hangover.

Now, a lot of research has yet to be done, but it’s pretty clear at this point that concussions are way worse than a hangover, and they don’t clear up as quickly. On top of that, Gronk’s statement is a brash statement of youth; many issues from these types of injuries don’t show up until later on in life.

Gronkowski is an elite, young talent who is living in the here and now.

Gronkowski is an elite, young talent who is living in the here and now.

All that being said, Gronk’s comments have also been taken a bit out of context. He was not asked if he thought getting a concussion was a big deal or not. He was asked to pick between a concussion and a serious knee injury. Not a bruise or a tweak, but a blown out knee or torn ACL.

His reasoning was simple: The knee injury takes eight months to heal, and he can’t do a thing while he waits for it. He’s out of the gym, out of football. He can get cleared from a concussion in a few days. If he had to pick, he’d take the concussion.

The reality, of course, is that he’d like neither. But that’s a boring answer. Of course, a football player would prefer to not be hurt at all. That would have been the bland, politically correct answer many athletes would have given out. It’s why interviews are so boring these days. Athletes are always afraid to say the wrong thing and have the media run with it. So they say nothing and dance around questions, just like politicians.

Gronk doesn’t care about that. He just says what he thinks. And then he spikes a pinata.

This is a guy who has dealt with knee injuries. He knows what they mean and how painful they are. He knows how long they keep him off the field and how hard the rehab is. He also likely knows knee injuries are going to linger, and those aches and pains are going to come back with old age. Either way, football is a rough sport, and he’s going to pay the price for it with his body.

His comments do show that he may not take concussions seriously enough or that he may not understand the full ramifications of a brain injury. That’s slightly scary for a guy who throws his body around like Gronkowski does.

But there was no good answer to that question, so he picked the injury that would get him back on the field the soonest and went on with his night. His outlook may be wrong, but it’s not as bad as some have made it out to be.

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