How players and pundits reacted to Rob Gronkowski’s suspension

The one-game punishment garnered a mixed response.

Tre White Buffalo Bills
Tre'Davious White was injured after his interception of a pass intended for Rob Gronkowski during the fourth quarter. –Barry Chin/Globe Staff

On Monday afternoon, the NFL levied a one-game suspension on New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski for his late hit on Tre’Davious White during the Patriots-Bills game.

Gronkowski reportedly plans to appeal the punishment, which some are calling too lax and others are calling too stringent. From former Patriots to the media, here’s how folks reacted to the play and the league’s subsequent decision:

Tom Brady

Quarterback Tom Brady was asked about Gronkowski’s suspension during his radio appearance with Westwood One’s Jim Gray.

“It happened in the last Pats play of the game,” Brady told Gray. “It’s an emotional game, and the emotions got the best of Rob. I’m disappointed he won’t be out there with us on Monday night. I think he’s appealing it, but we’ll see how that goes. I support Rob, I love Rob. He’s been such a great supporter of mine. He knows I’m always here for him.”


In regards to how the Patriots will approach their game against the Dolphins without Gronk, Brady said the following:

“We’ll try to put together the best plan we can. We’ll see how it goes. Other guys are going to have to step in and do that spot. We’re going to have to do it well. It’s going to be a tough game anyway, and we’re going to do the best we can do.”

Willie McGinest

During an appearance on the Jim Rome Show. former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest voiced that he didn’t believe Gronkowski should have been suspended on account of “his history” and “what kind of player he is.”

“He’s not an egregious player,” McGinest told Rome. “He doesn’t do this type of thing. He does things the right way on and off the field, and this was a one-time incident. But there will be some in-house talking to, of course.”

Although the NFL Network analyst sympathized with Gronk’s comments that a number of moves go uncalled against him, he also said the lack of flags does not warrant the response directed at White.

“If you watch tape — not just this year but in prior years — there are a lot of things that players get away with because he is a big physical tight end and smaller defensive backs get away with a lot of things,” he said. “But that doesn’t justify what he did.”


McGinest was not happy when a user criticized his take, calling one user who disagreed “a dumbass” and an “idiot.”

Rodney Harrison

Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said on NBC’s Sunday Night Football pregame show that he believes Gronk deserves to be suspended.

“As disappointed as I am in Rob Gronkowski, I do believe that he deserves to be suspended one game,” said Harrison, who likened the tight end’s situation to someone on the streets.

Larry Fitzgerald

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said on Westwood One that he didn’t “particularly like the suspension.”

“I don’t like when the actions of one player affects his team,” Fitzgerald said, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “Taking him off the field for a complete game is going to really hurt the Patriots. I thought he definitely should have been fined heavily.”

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“Those kind of plays really don’t have a place in our game,” he continued. “I think the NFL has done a great job of emphasizing that over the last few years. I don’t agree with the one game suspension though.”

Steve Buckley

In his column, “Rob Gronkowski got off easy with 1-game suspension,” the Boston Herald‘s Steve Buckley writes:

“Gronk’s after-the-whistle slice of mayhem occurred with 4:50 remaining in the game, the Patriots ahead by 20 points — making it a three-possession deficit for the Bills. In other words, while we all agree that hard hits can be strategic and game-changing, this hard hit was neither. There was nothing strategic about it, nothing game-changing about it, and, while we’re at it, nothing artistic about it.”

Dan Shaughnessy

In his column, “Don’t try to defend Rob Gronkowski, Patriots fans,” the Boston Globe‘s Dan Shaughnessy writes:

“This play was bad. And it is indefensible. Shame on any Patriot nitwit who’ll explain this by telling us that Gronk gets held on every play and it finally boiled over. Please spare us all idiotic and embarrassing defenses of the act. Your guy Gronk did a really bad thing, and there is no excuse for it.”

Chad Finn

In his column, “Rob Gronkowski deserves a one-game suspension,”’s Chad Finn writes:

“Make no mistake, Gronkowski does deserve a one-game suspension. He didn’t quite go Full Burfict there, but it was a dirty play, and White was injured, and his own coach, Bill Belichick, told Bills coach Sean McDermott that it was a “b.s.’’ play during the postgame handshake. There should be real consequences, something Gronkowski seemed to realize sometime between the hit and the walk to the locker room.”

Peter King

In his column, “Ten things I think I think: Rob Gronkowski deserves suspension for dirty hit on Tre’Davious White,” Sports Illustrated‘s Monday Morning Quarterback’s Peter King writes:

“I think my first reaction to Rob Gronkowski’s dirty hit was that he didn’t deserve a suspension. He’s no Vontaze Burfict, no gratuitous offender with a long track record. But then I went back and watched it eight or 10 times. It’s gruesome, a forearm shiver from a much bigger man to the back of the head of Tre’Davious White, the Buffalo cornerback. Suspensions should not be doled out easily. But in this era of football, when the ills of hits to the head and head trauma and concussions are rightfully and universally decried, the violence of a hit like Gronkowski’s has far-reaching implications.”

Heath Evans

Former Patriots fullback Heath Evans said on WEEI’s “Dale & Holley with Keefe,” that he thought Gronkowski deserved to be suspended “based on the blatant aspect of it,” though he “wasn’t ultimately sure” if there was going to a suspension because of Gronk’s clean history.

“We’ve had Suh step on Aaron Rodgers’ leg and not get suspended,” Evans said.

He advised that Gronkowski “appeal on the emotion side” in his efforts to overturn the NFL’s decision and agreed with the tight end that White should have been flagged for pass interference.

“I don’t know how anyone would see it any differently,” Evans told WEEI.


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