New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was suspended one game without pay for his late hit on defenseless Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White.
Several Bills called the hit “dirty” and even Patriots coach Bill Belichick felt Gronkowski was in the wrong on the play. During his postgame handshake with Bills coach Sean McDermott, Belichick said the hit was “bulls—.”
A letter from Jon Runyan, NFL vice president of football operations, chastised Gronkowski in delivering the punishment of one game without pay.
“Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury,” Runyan wrote. “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.”
Gronkowski’s one-game suspension will cost him $281,250 in salary.
In the fourth quarter Sunday, White intercepted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Lying face-down on the sideline, White was already ruled down. Instead of touching White with two hands or running past, the 260-pound tight end came up from behind White and dove onto him, sending his forearm and shoulder into the back of White’s head.
Rob Gronkowski lost his cool. What a dirty play. pic.twitter.com/b2gFWp03yj
— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) December 3, 2017
White was helped off the field by the training staff and placed in concussion protocol.
Though he plans to appeal the suspension, if upheld, Gronkowski would be eligible to return to the Patriots’ active roster on Dec. 12. The Patriots face the Miami Dolphins at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 11 on “Monday Night Football” at Hard Rock Stadium.