When the Patriots face the rival New York Jets this Thanksgiving Day, it will be without their star tight end, the seemingly unstoppable Rob Gronkowski, who underwent surgery yesterday for a broken arm sustained in Sunday’s 59-24 dismantling of the Indianapolis Colts.
It’s the gaping victory margin that has had some football experts insisting it did not have to be. They say Gronkowski, injured while blocking for a single point after touchdown at the end of the game, shouldn’t even have been on the field. They argue that it was reckless and pointless to have him out there, risking injury with the game already decided.
Such critics often fault the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick for a tendency to run up scores. They even suggest that Sunday’s loss of the multimillion-dollar tight end was mere karma, an example of the football gods punishing the coach’s hubris and greed.
So they say.
But on a walk of North Shore streets, an observer is hard-pressed to find people agreeing with these criticisms. Even those who wonder about the decision often do it tentatively.
Former Peabody Public Schools teacher Victor Passcantilli shakes his head, demanding, “Who else would you put out there? Someone incapable of doing the job? Gronkowski is there for a reason. He’s a good blocker. Whenever the coach calls for the extra point team, these are the guys that go out there.”
As a blocker, of course, Gronkowski’s mission was to protect the kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, and his holder, Zoltan Mesko the punter, two other key players who might have been exposed to injury without good blocking.
“I’ll tell you what,” says Scott Barclay, a salesman on a visit to Depot Liquors in Beverly, “I personally would not have left him in there. But in Belichick you trust.”