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Faulty logic in this blame game

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  November 20, 2012 09:49 AM

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thanksbill.jpgWho’s to blame for Rob Gronkowski’s broken forearm? Was it Bill Belichick’s for leaving his star tight end in on the extra point kick during a blowout? Was it the football gods punishing the Patriots for…wait for it…running up the score? Was it Gronk’s fault himself for actually making a block and not giving up on the 59th point of New England’s win over the Colts on Sunday?

“The Patriots lost Gronkowski, who underwent surgery on his broken left forearm yesterday, because Belichick left him in to block for the extra point that concluded the 59-24 New England Massacre of the Colts,” writes the normally subdued Steve Serby in the New York Post, which wrapped itself in journalistic glory with its back page today.

“Belichick defenders, such as Tedy Bruschi and Tony Dungy, will give you the 'that’s football' argument.

“I will give you the 'that’s stupid' argument.”

See what he did there?

In our rush to lay blame for the Patriots’ loss of their most vital receiving threat, the media and fan base have all gone bezerk. I mean, it’s certainly questionable why, with a double-digit lead over Indianapolis, Belichick didn’t sit Gronk, Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Sebastian Vollmer, Vince Wilfork, Aqib Talib, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Devin McCourty, Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo, and the entire Minuteman squad.

Then again, maybe they should have suited up.

The Gronk injury was a freak thing that could have happened in the first quarter, or in the final minutes of a blowout. Why is it so difficult to agree on that? While Belichick didn’t exactly handle himself with any semblance of dignity on Monday when asked about the injury and subsequent surgery, it’s not his job as a professional coach to predict the possibility of the most miniscule of chances on the field.

Instead, it’s just another example of Belichick’s “arrogance.” Maybe we could all get along better if the Patriots sat on a seven-point lead just so nobody’s feelings get hurt. I’m surprised we didn’t get an interview with Andy Luck’s Mommy yesterday complaining about big, bad New England.

Now, here come the Jets, with the same, old, tired story lines popping up in the wake of what happened with Gronkowski. Here’s Gary Myers of the New York Daily News with a passage presumably written a half-decade ago.

“Although he always has one of the best teams in the NFL, and this season is no different, it’s been seven seasons since Belichick last won the Super Bowl and his three championships in his first five years in New England all came prior to being exposed in the SpyGate scandal at the beginning of the 2007 season.

“The longer Belichick goes without winning a Super Bowl after the Jets and the NFL put an end to his intricate spying operation of opponents’ defensive signals, the more a case can be made that his championships deserve an asterisk.

“The mystique and aura of Belichick has (sic) taken major hits.”

The Patriots are 55-19 since the beginning of the 2008 season.

That’s some hit.

If Belichick were able to predict the future, he’d probably use that power to much greater use than removing his tight end on the final score of the game. His failure to remove Gronkowski wasn’t steeped in any sort of intentionally sticking it to the Colts, nor was it by design to spark a furor leading into Jets week. Perhaps the most logical conclusion we can come up with for the injury is that it happened. Gronkowski is just as liable to get injured on any other dive into the end zone. Moreso, actually. Maybe he should stop catching touchdowns until playoff time. That’ll keep him healthy.

So, here we go. On one side, we have the arrogance of the Patriots. On the other, the dysfunction of the Jets. But you know if the Patriots win big on Thanksgiving night, it will be the former that is the story line in the New York media, continually hanging onto expired theories and controversies. But hey, the blame for the Jets’ mess has to lie somewhere.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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