You're never surprised when Tom Brady has Rob Gronkowski's back. The big tight end has helped make Brady's life a little easier since he arrived in New England as a second-round pick in 2010.
That's why it barely caused a ripple when Brady quietly lobbed some support Gronkowski's way as he stepped to the podium at New Era Field on Sunday.
MORE ON GRONK
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Devin McCourty was finishing up his press conference by making a joke that Patriots defensive backs to a lot of holding when trying to defend Gronkowski in practice. Brady replaced McCourty at the microphone with a smile and a quick quip.
After the country had several hours to chew on what happened at the end of the Patriots' 23-3 win in Buffalo -- when Gronkowski took a shot at Tre'Davious White following White's fourth-quarter interception -- Brady spoke to WEEI's Kirk and Callahan about his tight end's actions.
"Obviously, it was unnecessary roughness. He got the penalty for it," Brady said. "It’s an emotional game. These are spur-of-the-moment things. They just happen. We deal with the penalties. They got some penalties on the play too, and you’d always love to keep your cool all the time, but when you’re in a sport when you are trying to run, block and hit, tackle, and be physical and aggressive, that is why people tune in. I think if it was a pillow fight I don’t think people would tune in to watch."
Then Brady laid out why Gronkowski sometimes feels as frustrated as he does -- something Gronkowski himself explained immediately following the game. It's an issue Gronkowski has actually been very open discussing in the past, and it's one Brady was willing to delve into on Monday morning.
Clearly, they're hoping for some kind of change in how plays involving Gronkowski are officiated. At different points in his career, he has been among the league leaders in offensive pass interference penalties, and he picked up another to start the second half on Sunday.
"I think for him it is frustrating," Brady said. "He’s 270 pounds, so when they put a 190-pound player on him, any time there’s any contact, just by inertia the other defender is going to move. You basically limit it to a non-contact play and it’s just try to out-quick someone, which obviously those guys are a lot quicker.
"Gronk tries to get as close as he can to use his size, but the refs, they throw a lot of flags on him. He’s tried to change his style of play a little bit, but I think he obviously gets grabbed and held all day long. I’d say it is very frustrating for him to get these pass interference calls and he’s getting held the whole game and he doesn’t get a call. I can see why he’s very frustrated. It’s frustrating for everybody.”
Gronkowski finished the game with nine catches for 147 yards, but the question is now whether or not he will be able to build on that performance next week against the Dolphins. The league will certainly kick around the possibility of further discipline for his hit on White.
“I hope not," Brady said when asked about the possibility of a Gronkowski suspension. "I certainly hope not. Yeah, I hope not.”