While the 2013 offseason is only two days old, the unnecessary media vendetta against the personal life of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has already started.
First, let's be clear: Gronkowski is an insanely rich, life-loving 23-year-old, and he's perfectly capable of doing whatever he pleases during the offseason, just as long as he's not breaking any laws or violating his contract.
The media needs to stop making mountains out of anthills.
This recent firestorm began when celebrity news website TMZ received footage of Gronkowski dancing shirtless Sunday night at a Las Vegas nightclub and then revealed the video online.
The clip shows an obviously inebriated Gronkowski dancing and mock wrestling (sans shirt) on a dimly lit stage. He eventually slams one of his friends to the ground, despite wearing a cast on the broken left forearm that ended his 2012-13 season.
Eventually, someone in the media was going to bite on such a juicy "news" story.
On Tuesday morning, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald took the bait.
In her column, Guregian wonders aloud what Gronkowski was thinking during the TMZ footage.
This might seem like harmless fun, except Gronkowski was using his recently re-repaired broken left forearm to help hoist his friend up and over. According to a source close to Gronk, he didn’t appear to do any more harm to the forearm, which was in a long black cast.
But you still have to sit back and wonder what he was thinking.
On SportsCenter Tuesday morning, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith called Gronkowski's actions "moronic."
After last season's Super Bowl—a game the Patriots lost to the New York Giants—Gronkowski was the target of similar criticism.
Despite playing in the game with a highly sprained ankle, Gronkowski was filmed dancing with his shirt off at a postgame party in Indianapolis. Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, among others, went on the attack.
Here's Harrison to ESPN 1000 in Chicago:
I guarantee you this, if Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Larry Izzo, Richard Seymour or myself had been at that party, [Gronkowski] probably would have got his head rung...There's no reason for that to happen.
Of course, Harrison failed to mention that veteran tackle Matt Light had been doing the exact same thing at the exact same party. Harrison also freely admitted that he had not seen the video before forming and voicing his obviously negative opinion.
Unfortunately for Gronkowski, these assumptions stem from a time when everyone has an iPhone camera. Anything a popular athlete does in his personal life has the potential to land on the Internet.
But that reality shouldn't cloud others.
Gronkowski is a vivacious 23-year-old. He likes to enjoy himself in vibrant ways, even in the public eye. Yet he hasn't been in any trouble with law enforcement or had his mugshot run on SportsCenter.
And why can't he let loose now? Another grueling and taxing season is finally over. Few know what kind of physical and mental work goes into making the four- to five-month NFL season happen. His vacation, short as it may be, has already started.
Live it up, young man.
Now, should Gronkowski be body-slamming people with a still-healing forearm? Probably not. He does have a responsibility to the Patriots to be healthy for next season, which includes minicamps, OTAs and training camp.
But he did not hurt himself, and the video doesn't scream "crash to the ground" like TMZ so eloquently stated. His forearm should be healthy well before the Patriots need him to report to camp.
The whole incident—just like last year's—is being predictably overplayed.
Gronkowski is young, rich and, for the time being, free. Some in the media are expecting him to just fade into the background until the next time they care about the Patriots, when he actually means something to them.
Instead, Gronkowski is living his life the way anyone in his situation would.
Good for you, Gronk.