New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been suspended one game by the NFL without pay for his late hit on defenseless Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White in Sunday’s 23-3 victory.
Gronkowski was penalized on the play but not ejected from the game. It is the first NFL suspension for Gronkowski since he entered the league as a second-round draft choice with the Patriots in 2010.
“Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury. The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of ‘eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game.’ Those hits include the play you were involved in yesterday,” vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote in the letter to Gronkowski to inform him of his suspension.
In remarks to reporters after the game, Gronkowski had apologized to White for the hit, which came after an interception thrown in his direction. White was on the ground after the play, face down, when Gronkowski leaped on top of him and put his elbow/forearm into the back of his head/neck area.
Gronkowski will appeal the penalty, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
White had been covering Gronkowski, having tugged his jersey during the route and then appeared to push him at the top of the route. Gronkowski explained that he was upset about not seeing a penalty, as his frustration level was rising after being penalized earlier in the game for pass interference.
“I just don’t understand why there wasn’t a flag,” he said after the game. “It was a couple times in the game, and they’re calling me for the craziest stuff ever. And it’s crazy, like, what am I supposed to do? And then they don’t call that [on White]. It was just frustration, and that’s what happened.”
As Gronkowski walked off the field at the end of the game, he had a brief discussion with referee Gene Steratore and line judge Gary Arthur.
Gronkowski was called for four penalties in Sunday’s game — offensive pass interference, false start, holding and unnecessary roughness — and had been called for five all season entering the game.
Since the start of his career in 2010, he has been called for 23 penalties that were either offensive holding and/or offensive pass interference. The only skill-position player who has been called for more such penalties over that span is tight end Jermaine Gresham (29).