Rob Gronkowski's Fun Is Harmless for Now, but the Good Times Won't Last

Bleacher ReportSenior Writer IFebruary 26, 2013

Rob Gronkowski's forearm simply will not cooperate.

It had the nerve to break twice during the 2012-13 NFL season and then refused to heal in time for the New England Patriots tight end to be fully effective on the dance floor in Las Vegas.

The mind boggles at the possibilities open to an amped-up Gronk with a willing buddy/tackling dummy and two healthy forearms.

Alas, all we got was standard, dude-on-dude WWE action. C'mon, man, if you've seen one shirtless monster body slam his friend while dancing on stage at a crowded Vegas club, then you've seen 'em all.

In truth, the obscene part of that video is what happened prior to the wrestling.

But back to the troublesome forearm.

It seems to have developed an infection that required yet another surgery. The good news is, the latest setback doesn't look like it will delay Gronk from returning to the field. The bad news is the timing, coming less than a month after his dance floor artistry.

Gronk's defenders can downplay the latest development in his colorful off-field career all they want, and they should. There's nothing to suggest the infection was a result of, or even aided by, Rob's partying ways, and there's no legitimate reason to claim otherwise.

All the jokes about catching an infection while partying in Vegas aside, you probably have a better shot at picking up a bug like this in a hospital or training room than in a club. Granted, you can't totally rule out a connection.

The point being, if there is one, it's a freak deal.

Nobody in their right mind would think: "I better not go out drinking and dancing tonight because I might contract an infection in my surgically repaired, covered-in-a-cast forearm."

If the risk isn't reasonably foreseeable, then we're talking about bad luck.

I can't put a guy on blast for bad luck.

Unfortunately for Gronk, though, I do not own an NFL team.

Nor do the rest of the fans that see nothing wrong with a 23-year-old kid who's got a little celebrity, a lot of cash and time to kill, indulging in some hard living. We can sit back and laugh if we want; the shenanigans are harmless as far as we're concerned.

It's a long offseason, and we're not talking about anything criminal (for a change), so what's the big deal?

Compared to what many of us were doing at 23, Gronk's a precocious imp.

I mean, I'm no hellraiser, but I've got a few stories from my early 20s that are fit to print, just not on this website. So Rob channeling Mark Madsen before going all-out meathead doesn't quite rate on the outrage meter.

Though neither you nor I am signing zero-heavy checks over to this bro...unless Robert Kraft is in the audience, and that seems unlikely.

Those individuals tend to be older white gentlemen who view everything through an unforgiving cost-benefit prism and have little patience for anything that could negatively impact or distract from the bottom line.

Generally speaking, they're more risk averse than the guy who spends his Sundays eight beers deep while rocking face paint and spiked shoulder pads.

Which is why perception matters, even if it shouldn't.

Sooner or later, Gronk's antics won't be worth his assets in the eyes of the moneymen. Not necessarily because his personal life is impacting his professional one, but because that impression exists. If that day comes, he'll be leaving salary and years on the table or wearing a Dallas Cowboys uniform since owner/general manager Jerry Jones seems intent on courting those types (to obvious success).

Speaking of the Cowboys, back when Tony Romo was enduring his growing pains, Troy Aikman broke it down as simply and eloquently as I've heard before or since (via "You better worry about perception, because it's a big part of making it through some very difficult times."

It might not be fair and it may be simplistic, but the athlete who has a rep for being a salt-of-the-earth worker gets a measure of latitude that the wild child does not—even when the former doesn't deserve it and the latter does.

That's the reality.

Nobody who spends his or her life in the public eye survives unscathed. The going gets rough sooner or later and usually numerous times. You endure a bout of injuries, a slump, get arrested, get sued, your spouse cheats or you cheat on your spouse...whatever.

When those inevitable hurdles arrive, it's a lot easier to clear them if you're not being savaged at each turn by every observer.

It's a cruel world out there—one that doesn't need much ammunition, yet Gronk is giving it plenty.

That's cool if he's just worried about enjoying himself and can keep his happy-go-lucky demeanor by tuning out the white noise. However, if he's interested in maximizing his NFL potential, he might want to take a cue from those who went before him.

As the saying goes, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, and Rob Gronkowski is already off to a good start on the latter.


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