Like a lot of people, I have a love-hate relationship with preseason NFL games. They can be fun to watch sometimes, even though they are usually pretty boring. But it’s the first opportunity we have to watch football in about seven months, so that’s really where any and all excitement comes from.
Preseason is also an evil thing, because players are just begging to get injured and miss the entire season. Just look at Julian Edelman last year; fresh off winning his second Super Bowl title – and making arguably the greatest season-saving catch in Super Bowl history – and suddenly, his ACL is torn in a preseason game and his 2017 season is rotting in the morgue. He hasn’t played in a meaningful football game since Super Bowl LI … over a year and a half ago.
I know players need to get warmed up for the regular season. It’s not a good idea to be thrown straight into a regular season game without at least a little bit of in-game practice. But still, there are some players that should just never see the field during preseason games. To be more specific, players with a strong history of injuries. Players like, say, Rob Gronkowski for instance. It just isn’t worth the risk.
Albeit, Gronkowski didn’t do much on Friday night’s game in Carolina. He didn’t have any catches, and was only actually in the game for a couple of series in the first half. The Pats were careful with him, thankfully. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t suffer at least half a dozen heart attacks every time I saw him standing on the field.
Even during regular season games, any time I see a defender running in Gronk’s direction, I cringe. It’s been happening to me for almost five years, ever since … that’s right, you guessed it … December 8, 2013.
That was a nightmarish day in Gronkowski’s outstanding career. Not only were the Patriots losing 12-0 to the Browns at home, but then Gronk caught a beautiful pass from Tom Brady, just in time for Cleveland’s T.J. Ward to dive directly at his knees and turn him inside out. Gronk didn’t get up after that. He had to be carried off the field and to the locker room. Torn ACL, torn MCL, season over.
Even five years later, every time Gronk is tackled, it’s hard not to instantly flash back to that horrifying sight of him on the ground, writhing in pain. Thinking about it happening in a regular season game is bad enough. But in a preseason game? That’s the nightmare of all nightmares.
So yeah, even though Gronk barely did anything in the game on Friday, I cringed every time I saw that big No. 87 on the field. For the love of God, please don’t let him play next week.