Rob Gronkowski will play football again. Teaming up with Tom Brady was too good of an opportunity to pass up. There has been growing chatter from both Gronk and those close to the situation that he was getting the itch to return. So yesterday wasn't a total shock.
Things look a bit different when viewed through the lens of past statements the tight end made illuminating the complete hell football inflicted on his mind and body. Remember, if you can, all the way back to a few months ago when Gronkowski was on a media tour promoting cannabidiol-based pain relief products.
Here are some of the arresting things he said.
To NBC News:
"No lie, I felt my head, I used to have liquid. 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."
" I was walking around, my mood swings were totally up and down. I was aware what was going on with my body and my mind.
To The Boston Herald:
"“I go to the after party, I sit down, I’m just chilling the rest of the night until 3 a.m. I try to go to bed. I slept for like five minutes that night. I couldn’t even think. I was in tears in my bed after a Super Bowl victory. It didn’t make that much sense to me. And then for four weeks, I couldn’t even sleep for more than 20 minutes a night after a Super bowl win, and I was like, ‘Dang, this sucks. It didn’t feel good.”
While announcing his brand partnership:
""I want to be clear to my fans. I needed to recover. I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down, and I didn't like it. I was losing that joy in life."
"I truly believe that any injury that you receive is fixable. I went through it. I had nine surgeries, probably had like 20 concussions in my life, no lie. I remember five blackout ones."
People forget that Gronkowski believes he fixed his CTE. Perhaps that's instructive in understanding why he's hopping back onto the gridiron. None of this is to say that he shouldn't have changed his mind. It's his body and his decision. Whatever makes him happy.
It's just ... this wasn't all that long ago. Damage, despite what Gronk believes, is cumulative. The NFL is still a brutal business and the problems will resurface. It's a weird dance we do in the media where we cheerlead someone speaking the truth about the toll football takes in the fall and cheerlead that person's return come spring.