Rob Gronkowski may be getting an unwanted week of rest before a showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 17.
The NFL dished out a one-game suspension for his clobbering of Bills rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White on the sideline late in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 23-3 win in Buffalo. The suspension docks Gronk one game without pay ($281,250) for a violation of the league’s unnecessary roughness rules.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan issued the suspension for multiple violations of NFL rules, including Rule 12, Section 2, Article 6.
The rule violations include “unnecessary roughness” and specifically bans both “forcibly contacting a runner when he is out of bounds,” and “running, diving into…or throwing the body against or on a player who (1) is out of the play or (2) should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead,” as well as Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 which prohibits “initiating unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture”. Players, such as White, who are “on the ground” are both “defenseless” and protected from “forcible” hits to the “head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder.”
In his letter to Gronkowski, Runyan wrote:
“Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury. The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of ‘eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game.’ Those hits include the play you were involved in yesterday.”
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Gronkowski will appeal. Gronkowski has had a clean disciplinary sheet over his seven-plus seasons in the NFL. Whether that will play significantly in his appeal or outweigh the severity of the transgression is not clear.
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski will appeal his one-game suspension, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 4, 2017
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.
If Gronkowski appeals, the Patriots will find out his fate for next Monday night in Miami relatively quickly, according to coach Bill Belichick.
“It’s 24 hours, something like that,” Belichick told WEEI in his weekly radio appearance Monday. “It’s a short process. Just what happened last week with Aqib [Talib] and [Michael] Crabtree. It’s two games one day and it was one game [after] the appeal. So it would be a similar; that type of a timeframe, as I understand it.”
If Gronkowski does not appeal or if the league chooses to deny, he will be eligible to return to the Patriots’ active roster on Tuesday, Dec. 12 following the team’s Dec. 11 Monday night game against the Dolphins.