This occasion calls for a resurrection of an old friend, a jazzed-up and jealous New York sports fan, called “The Anti-Bostonian.” For one, it is rather difficult for me to continue exploring the world of English football to sufficiently fill more columns for “The Little Londoner.” More than anything, however, the opportunity to hammer Patriots fans just one more time was just too tempting.
Of course, the year I wrote the column both the Red Sox and the Patriots both managed to win their respective league championships. Perhaps my negative writings served as the exact bulletin board material needed for John Farrell and Bill Belichick to rally their troops. On behalf of everyone everywhere, I apologize for lighting their collective fire.
In all respects, the news of Rob Gronkowski moving to Tampa Bay does not change anything about the Patriots prospects for the 2020 season. This move illuminated that unless President Brady was at the helm for the Pats, Gronk would remain comfortable in his world of boat parties and WWE. Now that Brady’s in Florida? Well, the hefty pass-catcher can now continue to engage in both of those activities while playing professional football. Sounds like a sweet gig.
Thus, the Patriots will not really feel his loss on the field — they did feel it last season, as they limped to the 15th best offense in the NFL (the first time they have been out of the top 11 since 2003) without Gronkowski. Belichick and company almost completely neglected the position in the passing element of the game, as the now-retired Ben Watson was their leading catcher at the position with a measly 173 yards.
Gronkowski, meanwhile, did not struggle to put up gaudy catching statistics. By the time he retired, he was the all-time leader in tight end yards per game (68.3), TDs per game (0.69) and yards per target (9.9). Like George Kittle, Gronk also earned his keep in the trenches, but his career 88.7 Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade is beyond elite and shows that, surprisingly, the party-boy did not lose focus when the spotlight was not on him catching passes.
The Patriots will feel the loss of Gronk’s presence from people like me, the low-life internet persona, or eager twitter-users ready to rub the impending success of the Buccaneers right in the faces of Pats nation. Surely six championships are worth a little bit of playful banter on social media? Surely the 28–3 comeback alone was worth a lifetime of social media churlishness. Here’s an example of what to expect:
There’s also a large likelihood that by the time this article is published, Julian Edelman too will have been traded down to glorious Tampa Bay.
No, this is not going to happen. Remember, Gronk was never going to play for the Patriots in 2020 anyway and you should consider this transaction just a surplus fourth-rounder that appeared out of thin air. Perhaps the Pats can use it to trade up in the draft? According to NFL.com’s positional group draft rankings, tight ends rank 10th out of the 11 groups.
The real sting is the ever-so-tasty concept of seeing the mighty Tampa Bay Buccaneers reach the playoffs while the Patriots do not. The term “jealous Patriots fan” does not currently exist in common vernacular but we better contact Merriam-Webster quickly so they can make an addendum to their next dictionary.