Rob Gronkowski provided seemingly nothing but positives over the course of nine seasons in New England. But is there a chance he brings the Patriots down in his first year of retirement?
While Gronkowski currently isn’t an active NFL player, he almost certainly will continue to float in and out of football headlines as the new season unfolds. Many already were mapping out a Gronk comeback upon his retirement announcement back in March, but the possibility of returning was confirmed Tuesday when the five-time Pro Bowler left the door open while addressing his future.
In turn, Patriots players and coaches likely will field Gronkowski-related questions as the 2019 campaign begins, especially if New England struggles out of the gate. For most teams, a situation such as this could turn into a harmful distraction. But considering we’re dealing with Bill Belichick and Co. here, Chris Simms can’t see it being an issue in Foxboro.
“New England’s not gonna get distracted. They got too many leaders there. Coaching staff, Brady, everybody — it’s always just stay on task,” Simms recently said on “ProFootball Talk Overtime.” “‘This is what we’re doing today and we’re going to get better at this today.’ There’s never external motivation in New England. I think that’s the greatness of their team. It’s all internal motivation, it’s how you can get better, how we can get better. It’s not like, ‘Oh, read the headlines, get pumped’ or ‘this guy can save us.’ They’re just not that way. I do wonder if it creeps into players’ minds. You know, if things are struggling late October, November will they wonder, ‘Will Gronk come here and save the day?’ I don’t think it gets to a distraction standpoint, but I do think there’s going to be that time during the season where media is gonna start asking players and players are gonna have to start answering the questions. But New England’s a machine, I don’t imagine it being a problem.”
It’s almost too easy to predict how the Patriots will handle the Gronkowski situation moving forward. Belichick will make it clear he’s only focused on players on the roster, and his team will follow suit. Should Gronk elect to strap his pads back on and is welcomed back, the Patriots coach will explain the organization made a decision based on what it felt was best for the football team.
So despite his superstar status and the excitement his return would prompt, don’t expect the Gronk uncertainty to hinder New England in any way.