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Rob Gronkowski: Rib injury felt like getting shot

NFL: SEP 26 Buccaneers at Rams

INGLEWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) catches the ball and gets tackled by Los Angeles Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis (52) during a game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Friday, Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski spoke to the media for the first time since suffering broken ribs against the Rams. At the end of the six-minute session, he was asked about the pain associated with the injury.

I never got shot before, but that’s kind of like what it felt like,” Gronkowski said.

(And that was the end of his press conference; the video cuts out as abruptly as it did before a certain fictional mafia boss got shot.)

Not long before he compared the Week Three injury to getting shot, Gronkowski reflected briefly on the litany of injuries he has suffered in his career. He said he’ll refer to his various football maladies when his kids whine about bumps and bruises.

“I’m gonna definitely has to file this one, too, under workers’ comp,” Gronkowski added, laughing. “I think the NFL after I’m done is scared. Workers’ comp. I’m comin’ for you guys.”

Gronkowski returned briefly from the rib injury in Week Eight against the Saints, but he left with what was called a back injury.

“I mean, that was a situation where it was kind of like a game-time situation,” Gronkowski said. “And unfortunately I mean it didn’t go the way we thought it was gonna go. But we were ready for that. We were ready for both situations. And that’s it. I mean, that’s what happened. It didn’t go the way we planned. We just had to take it back a step, and then just make sure we take it one step at a time from there, and that’s what we’ve been doing now.”

He was asked whether his retirement has made him more inclined to be careful about returning to action before he was ready.

“No, that didn’t really alter it at all,” Gronkowski said. “Just talking with the team, the team staff here, myself, just seeing where I was at. We have a plan and that’s to have a couple practices under my belt this week and keep going from there. Just when I’m 100 percent, ready to go. We’re all in on the same page here.”

Gronkowski, who said twice that the “arrow is pointing up” toward playing (coach Bruce Arians said the same thing), said his back is currently fine.

“I mean, I definitely had a lot of back issues,” Gronkowski said. “I mean, it’s not like it’s hidden. I mean, everyone knows that. I’ve had a few back surgeries. Missed a couple times with it. So I would just say, just gotta be careful with the things I do. With the type of rehab I’m doing and everything like that and also just be aware of it when coming back and just being noteworthy of it. That’s really all. I mean, other than that, I mean, I think it’s good to go.”

His presence could make a real difference. He had two touchdowns in each of the first two games of the season, before suffering an injury that made him feel like he got shot.