FOXBORO -- The reality is no one wants to hear it. No one feels bad for the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Thor-looking tight end who is sometimes pestered by defensive backs eight inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter.
But the reality is Rob Gronkowski has a point.
Against the Chiefs in the season-opener last week, Gronkowski was covered primarily by safety Eric Berry but there were others as well. All were physical, fighting Gronkowski's strength with their scrappiness.
At times that scrap included a bump or a grab of the arm down the field. And it wasn't exclusive to Gronkowski. The Chiefs did it to Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan at times as well. It seemed like they took a can't-throw-a-flag-on-every-play approach.
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The officials did call pass interference and defensive holding. Cooks, who measures in at 5-foot-10, 189 pounds, drew three flags on his own.
But for the most part, it worked. Gronkowski was limited to two catches for 33 yards, and despite the occasional plea, he got no calls.
Asked on Thursday if he felt like Kansas City's defensive backs got handsy in coverage, he said "sometimes." He's used to it, he explained, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.
"If I was one of those DBs, and you've seen film over the last few years, I would definitely be doing that if I was a DB -- 100 percent," he said. "You don't really see it called ever, so I've just got to play with it. Play how the game is called. If I was a DB, I'd do that, too."
The response for Gronkowski might be to fight fire with fire. But he knows if he pushes off, the chances of him being flagged are probably greater than the other way around.
It's physics. If someone Gronkowski's size bumps a smaller player, the smaller player is more likely to flail like a car dealership inflatable man as he falls to the ground.
So what's the answer? Gronkowski said he does his best to play his game without concerning himself too much about picking up flags for push-offs.
"I feel like whenever I think about that -- 'I can't be physical because of the referee, I might get a penalty' -- I actually feel myself off my game," he said. "So I feel like I should just play my game and just [not] worry about what the refs call, and be physical.
"I don't like thinking, 'I can't be physical on this play.' You just don't feel right. I'm just going to stick to my game and just do what I got to do, and do it better."
The Saints don't have a three-time First-Team All-Pro safety like Berry, but safety Kenny Vaccaro might be their best bet to try to neutralize Gronkowski for a second straight week.
"He's strong, tough, good tackler . . . physical player," Bill Belichick said of Vaccaro earlier this week.
How Gronkowski responds to that physicality in New Orleans will be worth monitoring.