If Rob Gronkowski has played his final NFL snap, has he done enough to earn a first-ballot spot in Canton, Ohio?
The four-time All-Pro has been a terror for opposing defenses, but he only has suited up for nine NFL seasons. Over the course of his career, he has excelled in all aspects of the tight end position from pass catching, running and even blocking, but some have questioned if he has the longevity needed to be enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald spoke with five members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee to gauge how they would feel about Gronk’s first-ballot potential if he were to hang up his helmet now.
“His stats aren’t as high as some of these other guys (who are in). But there’s no doubt he’s the most complete tight end of his era. But with his stats, there might be some discussion on whether he’d be a first-ballot guy, or not,” Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports said. “I can see it playing out where he might have to wait a little bit. But he’s done enough to wear a jacket. Rob Gronkowski will be a Hall of Famer one day. He passes that eye test. He made so many big plays in so many big games. He’s won so many rings. It’s going to happen. It just comes down to when.”
Paylor wasn’t the only one to feel this way.
“Do I think he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer? No, not at the moment,” former Boston Herald columnist Ron Borges said. “If he continues playing, and puts up some more numbers, then maybe he becomes one. Do I think he’s a Hall of Famer? He’s got a very strong case. I would be shocked if he wasn’t in the room to be debated. I mean, that’s the first thing, you gotta get in the room. If you don’t get in the room, none of the rest of it matters.”
But Houston Chronicle writer John McClain told Guregian he believes Gronk undoubtedly is deserving of a first-ballot selection.
“Wes Welker is the best slot receiver I’ve ever seen, but Gronk’s the best weapon Brady’s ever had,” said McClain. “(Randy) Moss had that great year, but then he was gone like a shooting star. I believe Gronkowski is going to go in the Hall of Fame without a doubt and is worthy of that first ballot.
“I’ve been watching football since 1960. When you think about the combination of size, the speed he had at that size, and being an underrated blocker, and being able to line up at so many different spots, his career average is over 15 yards (per catch). I’ll say this: When Gronk is eligible, I’ll vote for him. To me, he’s a no-brainer if he never plays another play.”
It seems as if most agree the five-time Pro Bowler will eventually get in, but can’t commit to giving him the gold jacket on his first time around if he were to hang it up now. With 521 receptions, 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns throughout his illustrious career, expect to eventually see a bust of Gronk in Canton, even if it takes a few years.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images