Rob Gronkowski’s status as a player is pretty cut and dry: When healthy, he’s the best tight end in the NFL.
But start talking about his off-field decisions, and you might hit a slippery slope.
The New England Patriots tight end is not shy about having fun, whether it be chugging beers on a parade float or partying with models on the beach in Miami. For the most part, his antics have been viewed as harmless. But in a column Wednesday, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman cited four NFL players who questioned whether Gronkowski is held to a different standard than other players in the league, particularly those of a different race.
That sparked a debate about how the public perceives Gronkowski compared to his peers. Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe decided to weigh in on the issue during Thursday’s episode of “Undisputed” on FS1.
Sharpe appeared to agree that Gronkowski benefits from a racial double standard.
“He gets a pass, because guess what? That’s Gronk being Gronk,” Sharpe explained. “Let’s go back to the ’80s: Could Randall Cunningham or Warren Moon have done what Jim MacMahon did? Absolutely not. And that’s the problem. When a white guy does (something) it’s: ‘Aw man, that’s just him, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’
“Let Odell Beckham do that. Let Cam Newton or Dez Bryant do that. … Let them walk around chugging beers. First of all, the team wouldn’t go for it. And if the team would pass, the NFL would call them and say, ‘Handle that.'”
You can agree or disagree with Sharpe, but there’s a good chance the public discourse surrounding Gronk isn’t over.
Thumbnail photo via Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports Images