After Tom Brady threw his lone interception of the day to Buffalo’s Tre White, intended Patriots receiver Rob Gronkowski was visibly frustrated about the play. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end dove in for a late hit on White, who was already ruled down. Gronk was given a personal foul penalty.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 3, 2017
As a result of the contact to his head, White was treated on the sideline and has entered the league’s concussion protocol. The Bills immediately called the unsportsmanlike move “not cool” on Twitter. Head coach Sean McDermott and other players also expressed their displeasure during postgame interviews.
“Tre made a nice pick. I wasn’t happy with what ensued after that,” McDermott said. “I don’t think there’s any place in the game for that. It’s unfortunate, and I know Gronk is a better player than that.”
“It’s just a dirty play, man. That’s something the NFL talks about all the time,” safety Micah Hyde added. “If the refs didn’t see it live, they had a good chance on the replay. Just a dirty play.”
Fellow safety Jordan Poyer equated Gronk’s actions to the those in the WWE and questioned why he wasn’t ejected from the game. The 26-year-old argued that if any player other than Gronk were involved, then he would have been ejected. He also said that the Bills will remember the play when the two teams meet again on Christmas Eve.
In the Patriots locker room following the game, Gronkowski acknowledged that he should’t have reacted the way he did and issued an apology. The 28-year-old explained that he was getting frustrated by the lack of calls in his favor — an annoyance that he feels has plagued him “over the past seven years.”
“First off, I definitely want to apologize to no. 27,” he said. “I’m not in the business of that. It was a lot of frustration, and I was just really frustrated at that moment. It just happened naturally through emotions and frustration, and I just want to apologize to Tre’Davious White. I don’t really believe in taking shots like that.”
“I felt like he kind of pushed me a little bit and made the play,” he continued. “I just don’t understand why there wasn’t a flag. A couple times through the game, they’re calling me for the craziest stuff ever. It’s like crazy. Like, what am I supposed to do? And then, they don’t call that?”
New England’s head coach Bill Belichick called Gronk “a big target” and “hard guy to defend,” but didn’t have any commentary on the specific play or its possible consequences.
“I didn’t really see what happened on the whole play,” Belichick said. “There was quite a bit of stuff going on on that play. It was something that the officials handled today and it’s not really anything we have any control over.”