Save one very timely connection between Tom Brady and Kenbrell Thompkins (and, oh, whatever happened at Fenway Park on Sunday night), and much of New England would likely be talking about Rob Gronkowski again Monday morning.
Gronkowski is no longer the focal point for local fans thanks to the Patriots pulling out a win over the Saints and the Red Sox providing a magical ALCS, but that doesn’t mean things are any calmer behind the scenes. After reports came out Sunday that Gronkowski’s delay in returning was creating tension in the Patriots organization, two people close to the source are trying to add some clarity.
Gronkowski’s mom, Diane, told the Boston Herald on Sunday that those who question Gronkowski’s willingness to play don’t “really know the whole story.”
“All I can say is Robbie is dying to play. He wants to get out there,” she said. “He’s doing what he has to do to get back playing. He doesn’t like it. He wants to play. It really bothers him that he’s not playing.”
WEEI.com reported last week that Gronkowski is slow to return because of lingering complications with his injured right forearm, including some sources who said Gronkowski did not need the first surgery that ultimately proved troublesome last year when he was trying to rush back. The report also said Gronkowski’s family is especially concerned about him returning too soon and possibly causing more harm.
“The same people who criticize him for not coming back are the same people who say he came back too soon last time,” Diane Gronkowski told the Herald. “It is what it is. Rob is the only one who can make this decision. … He doesn’t want to go back where he was and start all over again. It wasn’t fun. It was so discouraging.”
Meanwhile, Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft said there is no tension between the team and Gronkowski before Sunday’s game.
“Not from the level with anybody named Kraft,” he said on 98.5 The Sports Hub of whether there are concerns. “I’m not aware of it with anybody anywhere else. … Rob is going to know when he wants to play, and Rob loves the game of football. When Rob wants to play, when Rob can play, he’ll play. No one here questions Rob’s desire about the game, about his passion for the game, and wanting to play the game of football.”
Kraft also reiterated that Dr. James Andrews, who was in town to give a second opinion on Gronkowski’s injuries, is not a team doctor, and that he was around to make sure Gronkowski is in good health before he returns to play.