We've heard the excuse plenty of times: When Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski does something zany, the New England Patriots simply shrug it off as "Gronk being Gronk."
In the past, that was understandable. But Gronkowski's recent incident of partying hard in Las Vegas, wrestling with a friend and falling dangerously on his twice-broken arm should be considered a red flag by the Patriots.
In cases like this, New England must alter its motto of "Gronk being Gronk" to "Gronk being stupid."
I was away on vacation last week when the "Summer of Gronk" began several months early. It should be another interesting offseason following Gronkowski's adventures around the country. However, if the Patriots don't say something now, who knows what kind of follow-up act Gronkowski has planned when his focus should be on rehabbing his broken arm.
Gronkowski is a rock star in every sense of the term. He's rich, he's famous, and he definitely knows how to party. Gronkowski also is a fun-loving person that others want to be around. I get it.
But at some point Gronkowski, a $53 million player, has to make choices in life that benefit his employer and teammates. Nearly breaking his twice surgically repaired arm for a third time while partying is not a wise move. There are safer ways to have fun -- even for a rock star like “Gronk.”
The Patriots are a stuffy and tightly wound organization. That’s why it’s surprising how much the Patriots have looked the other way when it comes to Gronkowski’s antics. You would think Bill Belichick or someone behind the scenes would offer Gronkowski a stern warning to slow down, especially while rehabbing a major injury.
Patriots teammate Aaron Hernandez, 23, gets it. He's reportedly renting an offseason apartment near Huntington Beach, Calif., to be near Tom Brady, and the two will work out together. Gronkowski could learn something from his fellow tight end.
How important is Gronkowski to the Patriots? Look no further than the past two seasons.
When Gronkowski didn't play in the AFC title game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots lost and the offense struggled. When Gronkowski was too gimpy to be a factor in last year’s Super Bowl against the New York Giants, the Patriots lost and the offense struggled.
The Patriots will eventually need Gronkowski healthy and productive to win a Super Bowl -- and it’s time for the tight end to act like it.
It's time for "Gronk being Gronk" to change to "Gronk being smart."