Sports Illustrated columnist wonders why Rob Gronkowski got a ‘free pass' from fans and media


Rob Gronkowski was known to enjoy himself off the field just as much as he dominated on it, and one writer has an issue with the "free pass" given to the now-retired Patriots tight end.

Andrew Brandt, a former Packers executive who now writes for Sports Illustrated, criticized fans and media in his Tuesday column for the double standard applied to Gronk for his "behavior." Brandt wrote that Gronk's partying "was certainly not admirable" and would not have been treated the same for other players.

Here's an excerpt from Brandt's piece:

I look back shaking my head at the free pass that Gronk constantly received from fans and media, even beyond New England. “Gronk being Gronk” became an easy catchphrase and rationalization about behavior that (1) was certainly not admirable and (2) would not create the same response for other players ...

I ask you to pick another player, any player; I will not pick one for you, as that would skew this experiment. Now imagine that player shown slamming beers, partying regularly with bikini-clad women and generally promoting a hard-party lifestyle. Would we say it’s just “him being him” and let him have his fun? I doubt it.

Brandt didn't stop there. He went on to suggest Gronkowski wouldn't have suffered as many injuries during his nine-year career if he simply didn't party as often as he did.

But consider this: It is a fair question to ask whether Gronk would have been injured less and had a more productive career had he partied less.

This should go without saying, but implying that Gronk would have been more productive if he drank fewer beers and partied with a few less bikini-clad women is a pretty wild take.

The future Hall-of-Famer's off-the-field actions never turned into a distraction. Not because fans, media, and the organization turned a blind eye, but because Gronkowski knew when it was time to prioritize football and when it was appropriate to party like the three-time Super Bowl champion he is.

A "free pass" never was given to Gronk, it was earned.

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