Rob Gronkowski was a big factor in the New England Patriots’ offense early in the Super Bowl on Sunday, but he did take some punishment.
After making a catch on third-and-long in the second quarter, Gronkowski was taken down by two Los Angeles Rams defenders. His left knee seemed to take a shot as he was tackled and he came up limping.
One good sign is that Gronk waved off the team’s trainer after hitting the sideline.
Head trainer Jim Whalen came over to Rob Gronkowski on the bench after that last hit and him walking off field slowly, but Gronkowski brushed him off.
— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) February 4, 2019
Gronkowski has battled injuries all season, dealing with back and heel/Achilles issues. Seeing him come up limping so early in the game was a concern.
Gronk had four catches for 40 yards in the early going. New England kicked a field goal after Gronk’s catch to take a 3-0 lead.
Rob Gronkowski has had opportunities this week to commit to playing in the NFL again next season, and it is really no surprise that he has largely avoided the subject. Very few people would be surprised if Sunday’s game ended up being the last of the star tight end’s career, and one respected NFL reporter believes it will be.
During an appearance on WEEI’s “Mut & Callahan Show” Thursday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk said he heard from trusted sources last year that Gronkowski was planning to retire if the New England Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.
— WEEI (@WEEI) January 31, 2019
“Last year in Minneapolis as the Super Bowl was approaching, I kept hearing from people I trust that Gronkowski was going to retire if the Patriots won the game,” Florio said. “I think not winning the game caused him to take a step back.”
Florio added that he believes Gronk will retire following this year’s Super Bowl whether the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams or not, as family members are “hounding him” to call it a career before more injuries — particularly concussions — pile up.
Even one of Gronk’s brothers recently made it seem like there’s a legitimate chance the All-Pro could retire. While Gronkowski has proven he can still make a major impact during this postseason run, he’s nowhere near as dominant in the receiving game as he once was. Another championship ring would probably make his decision an easy one.
The week leading up to the Super Bowl can sometimes feel quite long. There’s a lot of media that normally wouldn’t get the chance to speak with NFL players, and there are a lot of opportunities for those media members to speak to the players. That can lead to some pretty bizarre revelations.
The most bizarre of Super Bowl LIII may end up being Rob Gronkowski’s lifelong love of being tickled.
The New England Patriots’ tight end made quite clear that he really enjoys being tickled on Wednesday and has ever since he was young.
Gronk says his favorite thing in life is getting tickled! Really, he was adamant. Rob Gronkowski absolutely lives getting tickled. Not tickling, getting tickled !!
— Hub Arkush (@Hub_Arkush) January 30, 2019
Gronk: “I just like being tickled. Ever since the 2nd grade. ….It’s the best.” #SBLIII
— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) January 30, 2019
It’s probably time to play the game now.
Hey, more power to Gronk. In fact, when you consider his rather juvenile sense of humor, maybe we all should have seen this coming.
The big question on everyone’s mind is who will win Super Bowl LIII. There’s more than just the big prize at stake on Sunday in Atlanta, however. There are a lot of lesser prizes to claim, and not the least of them is Super Bowl MVP honors.
The joy of Super Bowl MVP is that anyone can win it. Sure, that sounds obvious on the surface, but any one player can have a big game out of nowhere, and that’s all it takes to put yourself in the conversation. Any player could jump up and surprise us and claim honors on Sunday, but some options are more obvious than others. Here are ten who would seem to stand a pretty good chance of claiming the award.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
If the Patriots win, it’s pretty easy to envision Brady claiming the Super Bowl MVP. The quarterback tends to play his best in big games, and this certainly counts as the biggest. The Rams can be vulnerable to the pass, and with two weeks of gameplanning, it’s pretty safe to say that Brady will be prepared for whatever Los Angeles throws at him. If he has a big game, it’s easy to see the MVP voters defaulting to him.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Rams
Cooks is the Rams’ big play wide receiver, the man Jared Goff counts on when he needs a big chunk of yardage. That puts Cooks in position to put up some big numbers. He had five 100-yard receiving games in the regular season, and he put up 107 yards on the New Orleans Saints during the playoffs. He hasn’t put up huge touchdown totals, but if he has a big yardage game and finds the end zone once or twice, hardware could come his way.
Michael Irvin got up-close and personal with Rob Gronkowski during an interview, leading the New England Patriots tight end to crack a joke.
Irvin was conducting interviews on Super Bowl Opening Night for NFL Network on Monday. Rather than remain back with the rest of the media, Irvin got right next to each of his subjects. He stood right next to Gronk for an interview and pulled the Patriot towards his chest, leading Gronk to joke about motorboating the Hall of Famer-turned-reporter.
My heavens Gronk. Kids are watching. pic.twitter.com/LiCZ9heqxj
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) January 29, 2019
Just as coaching staffs have been analyzing their Super Bowl opponents and formulating gameplans, fans and pundits are looking at matchups and potential talking points for the big game. There’s a lot to digest in a matchup of Bill Belichick and Sean McVay, along with the numerous weapons both coaches have at their disposal.
Which players will matter most, though? There are several names who could flip the game if they play at their best. Here are ten key players to look out for once Super Bowl LIII kicks off.
10) C.J. Anderson, RB, Rams
It’s become abundantly clear over the course of the playoffs that Anderson has a big role in the Los Angeles offense, particularly as a vertical runner. He outran Todd Gurley against the Cowboys and got significantly more carries against the Saints. How they’ll choose to deploy him against the Patriots remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt that Anderson is in line for a major role as they try to keep the New England defense and scheme on its toes.
Rob Gronkowski did not make a major impact on the stat sheet this season the way he has done throughout the majority of his career, but his presence has been felt in a big way during the playoffs. While a slightly slower Gronk is better than most of the tight ends in football, that does not mean he is committed to continuing his career after the Super Bowl.
Gronkowski’s older brother Chris, a former NFL fullback, told TMZ this week that Rob probably has not made up his mind about whether or not he will keep playing.
“I think that’s a question that I don’t think anybody actually knows the answer to at this point,” Chris said. “There’s so many emotions going throughout a season, throughout an offseason, throughout a game. I think that’s probably the last thing on anybody’s mind right now. You don’t even think about that stuff going into a huge game like this.
“I couldn’t tell you, and I don’t even think at this point that he knows what he’s going to do after the season.”
While a lot of the retirement rumors stem from the fact that Gronkowski has looked a step slower this season, he really brought them on himself. After the Patriots lost to the Eagles in the Super Bowl last year, Gronk openly contemplated retirement and said he was going to take some time to evaluate his future.
Gronkowski’s extensive injury history may be what pushes him to call it a career, but his brother is not the only person who has taken note of the contributions he is making during New England’s latest Super Bowl run. If the Patriots beat the Rams, Gronk’s decision might be a little bit easier.