In wake of Gronk's hit, NFL has ammo to suspend

In wake of Gronk's hit, NFL has ammo to suspend

UPDATE: Rob Gronkowski was handed a one-game suspension by the NFL for his late hit on Buffalo's  Tre'Davious White.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.  -- Gronk was mean and Gronk was wrong and Gronk was dirty.

Leaping on a unsuspecting player that you outweigh by 80 pounds and driving your forearm into the base of his head/neck so that his helmet ricochets off the turf is a crappy thing to do.

Gronk has taken his share of abuse and injuries, but there’s no reason for rookie Tre White to pay for the sins of T.J. Ward and Bernard Pollard.


Further, as a guy who’s had to come back from myriad injuries, Gronk knows what he did to White was crappy not just because of a possible suspension and fine, but because it injured a guy at least a little and possibly a lot. It was a dangerous thing to do.

It was plain on Gronkowski’s face in the postgame locker room that he knew he’d screwed up badly. The parade off the field where he waved and stuck his tongue out at fans who jeered him (two projectiles landed near him) was show.

How much “feeling bad” and apologizing will mitigate his punishment is up for debate. It probably won’t sway the NFL’s discipline czars as much as the over-the-top moralizing that always follows a Patriots-involved incident.

What should Gronk get? Well, the play was over and he knew it. The guy didn’t see him coming. He went to the head.

Factors in his “favor” would be the immediate apology, acknowledgment that what he did was rotten, no prior offenses that are similar (although he threw Sergio Brown “out da club” and got a fine a few years back) and the fact it was truly heat of the moment, though not between the whistles.

There have been myriad occasions of on-field mayhem this year that resulted in discipline.

Gronk’s hit on White reminds me most of the very ugly hit Danny Trevathan of the Bears applied to the Packers' Davante Adams. The play was virtually over, though Adams wasn’t on the ground, and Trevathan targeted Adams head and went helmet-to-helmet with jackhammer force. It was uglier than Gronk’s and Adams was more messed up. There was very little contrition from Trevathan. He wasn’t ejected. Neither was Gronk. Trevathan got two games and it was reduced to one.

The Bucs' Mike Evans was the third-man-in with a flying shove to the back of Saints corner Marshon Lattimore after Jameis Winston started a probem on the sidelines with Lattimore. Evans got a game. His was a premeditated hit from behind like Gronk’s but he wasn’t directly involved in the action.

In the end, the NFL has enough to justify either decision. But the court of public opinion -- which rarely returns a positive verdict for New England -- is agitated and calling for anything from four games to jail time. If the NFL is anything, it’s reactionary.


Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night


Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

Monday night, Cameron Wake will be trying to hurt Tom Brady. Pain – inflicting it, enduring it, the specter of it – is a football fact of life.

And no matter how hard the NFL tries to legislate out the danger of the game, it will always be inherent. Brady gets that better than Wake does. He’s been on the receiving end of it a lot longer than Wake’s been dishing it out. And while Brady’s gets to do his job with plenty of protections, he spends a lot more time prone and vulnerable than Wake does.

The Dolphins defensive end went deep last week talking about the nature of the game, the protections afforded, the risks players take and what he sees as the inconsistencies.


Asked about the injury suffered by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier last week, Wake said, “I’ve seen a lot of injuries so, unfortunately, that comes along with. This is my thing: I want to hurt everybody I play. I don’t want to injure anybody.

“I want you to be able to get up and go to the next play or feed your family and play next week but I want you to say ‘Man, Cameron Wake …’ ” Wake continued. “I don’t want you to be off the team or like not playing. I want you to obviously be physically defeated. I want to intimidate. I don’t want you to be harmed beyond tomorrow at all. It doesn’t always work that way.”

Continuing, Wake did a little math to make a very good point.

“We have 10 guys on IR or whatever? I’m sure every team has about that with 50 players on a team and then when you think about a 90-man roster … That’s a 20 percent chance every time you’re on the field, a 20 percent chance that whatever happens to you, you’re not going to play football this year.”

As appetizing as the NFL tries to make its product for the masses, the truth is that every single one of the players in the league has reconciled himself to the brutal, primitive nature of the game in which an opponent isn’t just defeated but beaten – literally.

Which means you will see a quarterback exhibit the fencing response as Tom Savage did Sunday, a linebacker unable to walk off the field because he can’t feel his legs as Shazier did last Monday or a well-liked tight end go barbaric on an opponent who made him mad as Rob Gronkowski did last Sunday.

Consumers, advertisers, social media and fans recoil. But violence is as much a part of the game as the football.


Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year


Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles star quarterback Carson Wentz has a torn left ACL and will miss rest of the season and playoffs, coach Doug Pederson confirmed.

Wentz, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, had an MRI on Monday that revealed the severity of the injury. Wentz was hurt late in the third quarter Sunday at Los Angeles. Backup Nick Foles rallied the Eagles (11-2) to a 43-35 win over the Rams that secured the NFC East title and put them in first place in the conference with three games remaining.

The Eagles have overcome several key injuries and now have to move forward without their most indispensable player. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, return specialist/running back Darren Sproles, star linebacker Jordan Hicksand special teams captain Chris Maragos already went down for the season.

"If there's ever an opportunity for me to rally the troops as the football coach, now might be the time," Pederson said. "You can't lose faith. This has been a resilient football team all season long."

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, Wentz made a giant leap this year. He passed for 3,296 yards and set a franchise single-season record with 33 touchdown passes while only tossing seven interceptions.

Foles led the Eagles to a pair of field goals on consecutive drives against the Rams. He is 20-17 as a starter in six seasons with the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs.

Pederson insisted the offense won't change with Foles.

"He's a highly intelligent football player," Pederson said.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles in his second stint in Philadelphia. He replaced an injured Michael Vick in 2013 and led the Eagles to an NFC East title during Chip Kelly's first season as coach. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and finished that season with 27 TDs and only two picks. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs. Foles went to the Pro Bowl and was the offensive MVP.

But Kelly traded Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford after the 2014 season. Foles spent a year with the Rams, a season with the Chiefs and returned to Philadelphia as a free agent this season.

Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld is Philadelphia's No. 3 quarterback. Pederson said he hasn't spoken to personnel boss Howie Roseman about adding a third quarterback yet.

"I'm absolutely ready to go - need be," Foles said after the win over the Rams. "I prepare every day."