The Patriots announced today that they had put oft-injured tight end Rob Gronkowski on IR, ending his season. ESPN’s Field Yates broke the news on Twitter that the Patriots ended his year due to his back injury suffered against the Seahawks in week ten. A vicious hit from Earl Thomas caused a herniated disc, which required surgery. He tried to play through the injury in week eleven against the Jets but was limited to two targets for no catches.
Gronk underwent his surgery yesterday to see what they could do to repair the herniation and see if he could come back this year. He was seen in good spirits on Instagram, but the video was very clear that Gronk was not in good sorts physically. It was going to be a long shot for him to come back before the Super Bowl, so the Patriots did the prudent thing and ended his season.
This is the latest in a long string of injuries that have cost Gronkowski time going back to college. In 2009, a back injury caused him to go under the knife and miss thirteen games. In 2012, a broken arm cost him six games of the 2013 season due to complications. That same season saw Gronk tear his ACL that cost him the remainder of the year. In his seven-year career, he’s played all sixteen games just twice, and he hasn’t done it since 2011.
Gronkowski has a long list of injury concerns, and it’s starting to get to the point where you have to wonder if he should hang it up. He got paid, has a ring, and still has his relative health. He’s been broken so many different times in so many ways that you have to shudder to think how a fifty-year-old Gronk will even be able to function.
There’s a precedent for superstars walking away from the game lately, with Calvin Johnson and Patrick Willis both calling it a career early due to injury concerns, as well as lower-tiered players like tackle Anthony Davis and quarterback Jake Locker. It’s probably time for Gronk to do the same.
There’s nothing left for Gronk to prove, except that he’s smart enough to know when to call it quits. He’s supposed to be back next season, but if he was smart, that Jets game would be the last one of his career. He’ll probably only get another few seasons before injuries knock him out anyway. He should walk away while he still can.