Anyone who knows the Patriots knows that Bill Belichick likes to keep everything in line when it comes to his football team. Just listen to any player after a game talk to the media and you can tell they were coached on what to say. "We're focused on next week" is all you ever get from a player, whether it was a great win or a heartbreaking loss.
We've seen players like Jonas Gray get benched for being late, even after a 200 yard performance. Even Malcolm Butler found a spot on the bench when he arrived late to OTAs, just months after his game winning interception in the Super Bowl. Since we know Belichick likes to keep his players quiet, why has Rob Gronkowski been able to remain the face of partying in the NFL since he entered the league; and do it without repercussions?
To start off, there is nothing wrong with how Gronk lives his life, because he is certainly not the only 26-year-old that likes to go out and drink. My point is that, Gronk is the first player under Belichick's reign that has been able to openly throw parties and be wild without facing some sort of punishment. Patriots fans have seen players benched or cut for a lot less than throwing a party on a cruise ship, which was Gronk's latest endeavor.
I'd have to imagine when Bill sees Gronk jumping around on stage with a bottle of champagne in one hand, 2 girls in the other, he just shakes his head. There's no way he enjoys what he sees, but at the same time, he knows he can't stop him. The problem for Bill is that Gronk really isn't doing anything worthy of punishment. All his partying is done during the offseason, and it doesn't affect his game in any way, at least not yet.
Especially after the Chandler Jones incident, you have to wonder if Belichick has a soft spot for players with pure talent. Jones was arrested after smoking synthetic marijuana, and just days later was out on the field against the Chiefs in the playoffs. It just seems a little unbalanced that Jonas Gray gets benched for being late, and Jones gets to play after getting arrested. I'm not saying that anything Gronk has done is comparable to getting arrested, but Belichick definitely hesitates to punish his more talented players.
According to the NFL Players Association, the average career length is about 3.3 years. I'm sure Belichick wants Gronk to take after Brady and play until he's 45, and that probably won't happen if he's doing backflips on stage at 35. It's not as if Gronkowski has had much luck with injuries throughout his career, and sooner or later he may have to tone down the partying.
It's almost refreshing to see someone throw a wrench into Belichick's system. We all love Bill, and we love what he's done for this team, but it's also fun to see Gronk partying on a cruise, knowing Belichick hates it. If Rob Gronkowski can party his way to a 15-year career and maintain his level of dominance, more power to him. I think I speak for all Patriots fans when I say I hope he can keep it under control and remain the best tight end in the league for years to come.
By Matt Watts