Rob Gronkowski should thoroughly reconsider even flirting with the idea of a potentially making an NFL comeback. There's little doubt the former tight end has made a strong enough case to one day land in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he's made a comment or two this offseason following his decision to retire from the NFL that leaves many wondering if he'll stay on the sidelines going forward -- or if there's a possibility he'll soon return to the New England Patriots.
If his body has anything to say about it, however, he should never strap on another football helmet in his life. Whereas injuries are a part of the game -- call them an occupational hazard -- along with concussions, simply brushing off the latter is unwise.
That is precisely what Gronkowski did recently, though, noting the insane number of concussions he dealt with in his time playing football. A few of them were so bad, he actually lost consciousness, but still believes any injury suffered in football can be repaired.
.@RobGronkowski told CBSN's @reenaninan that he'd let his son play football ––only after educating him about what he went through in the game.— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 12, 2019
He said he had about "nine surgeries, probably had 20 concussions" playing football. https://t.co/CYw25maOgo pic.twitter.com/dltWn6Y4k2
"I would let my son play football, but first I'd educate him on the game," Gronkowski told CBS News. "[I would] educate him on what I went through, and I truly believe that any injury you receive is fixable, though. I mean, I went through it. I had nine surgeries and probably had, like, 20 concussions in my life -- no lie. I remember five blackout ones."
While Gronkowski means well, not all injuries are indeed fixable, and especially not concussions -- which are literally bruises the brain suffers when it's slammed against the inside of the skull. New research has led to the understanding of illnesses such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that has led to a league-wide change in everything from on-the-field rules to helmet redesigns as a means of limiting the number of concussions a player might suffer -- if any at all. CTE and/or concussion-related symptoms can build over time with repeated brain injury and after suffering one concussion, it becomes easier to suffer yet another, and then another; so forth and so on.
There is evidence the human brain never heals from concussion trauma, and hearing Gronkowski's casual admission is frightening, to say the least. Combined with a recent description in a separate interview of just how gruesome his head injuries became, it's unsettling to consider him taking even one more hit on a football field.
"No lie, I felt my head, I used to have liquid," he told. "It used to be thick, like, my head used to be thicker, like a centimeter of liquid in some spots, and you feel it. I'd be like, 'What the heck?' You could put indents in my head, but now, finally, I'm getting the right treatments and doing the right things."
Neither the head injuries nor the fact he once had "a pint" of blood drained from his leg after a Super Bowl because of internal bleeding would deter him if he truly considered a return to the Patriots, though. For Gronkowski, who says he's now "fixed", and won't rule out a return, although tempering the possibility a bit by noting he's "in a good place right now" and "would have to be feeling it" to again lace up his cleats. For his sake -- given all of the information he's put out there since calling it a career -- it simply isn't worth it.
In reality, not everything is indeed "fixable".