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NFL wanted to be ‘fair and firm, but not excessive’ with Gronk’s punishment

Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski talks with back judge Dino Paganelli during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills. –Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent explained some of the thinking that went into Rob Gronkowski’s one-game suspension handed down this week, and defended the severity of the suspension to critics who think the Patriots tight end got off too lightly.

“We evaluated, and the one game is where we landed,’’ Vincent said Wednesday. “It was Rob’s first action of this kind. You want to be fair and firm, but not excessive.’’

Vincent explained that Gronkowski’s late hit was labeled a “non-football act,’’ and could be labeled under one of two categories: unsportsmanlike conduct or unnecessary roughness. He said the NFL chose unnecessary roughness for Gronkowski’s hit, though he didn’t fully explain why the hit wasn’t deemed unsportsmanlike conduct. Vincent added the fact that Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White landed in the concussion protocol as a result of the hit did not factor into the punishment.

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