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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Former Pats doctor hints Rob Gronkowski’s back injury could be career-ending

Rob Gronkowski

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will have had three back surgeries since 2009 once his latest procedure is completed, and it goes without saying that there is some major concern about that. How major, exactly?

Some are wondering if Gronkowski will ever play in the NFL again.

Former Patriots team doctor Thomas Gill spoke with WBZ in Boston Thursday about Gronkowski’s injury, and he painted a grim picture.

“There’s a whole saying that we have when we’re evaluating players at the Combine — once a disk, always a disk,” Gill said. “Even when it’s fixed, especially with an offensive lineman, we always downgrade offensive linemen when they’ve had a disk surgery because we know this is going to happen again. If this is the third time that it’s happened, if it’s the same level, as tough a guy as he is, I’m not aware in my 16 years of a player still in the league who has had three disks on one level done.”

If you believe Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, the three back surgeries Gronkowski will have had were not to repair the same disk. Rosenhaus said in 2013 that Gronkowski’s second diskectomy was not on the same disk as his first in 2009.

For what it’s worth, another former NFL team doctor sees no reason why Gronkowski cannot have another full recovery if the information that has been reported about his latest injury is accurate.

It’s unclear when Gronkowski suffered his most recent back injury. While the Patriots say it happened during last weekend’s game against the New York Jets, there was some speculation that the damage was done on this vicious hit from Earl Thomas a few weeks back.

Even if Gronk does make a full recovery, it seems highly unlikely that he would be back for the AFC Championship Game or Super Bowl if the Patriots get that far. His incredibly long injury history all but rules out a quick return.

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