BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL sent a message on Monday, suspending Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski for one game without pay for a late hit he delivered in Sunday’s win over the Bills.
Gronkowski will appeal the suspension, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
A frustrated Gronkowski dove on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White after the rookie picked off a pass by Tom Brady late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 23-3 New England victory in Buffalo.
After the play, Gronkowski launched himself into the corner, who was defenselessly on the ground. Gronkowski sent his forearm into the back of White’s neck, causing his head to hit off of the turf. White had to be helped off of the field and was entered into the league’s concussion protocol following Sunday’s game.
Gronkowski was hit with an unnecessary roughness penalty but was not ejected. He apologized for the hit after the game and explained that his frustration boiled over on the play. White held Gronkowski and pushed off ahead of picking off Brady, causing much of the tight end’s frustration.
But his actions were dirty and dangerous, and the NFL is making sure the 28-year-old gets their message. NFL VP of Football Operations Jon Runyan issued the suspension for multiple violations, and said the following in a letter to Gronkowski:
“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 fragrant hits that have no place in our game.’ Those hits include the play you were involved in [Sunday].”
Gronkowski finished Sunday’s game with nine catches for 147 yards, upping his season totals to 55 receptions and 849 yards to go with his team-high seven touchdowns. He’ll have to sit out New England’s Week 14 game against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football, barring his appeal, and will be eligible to return to the Patriots on Tuesday, December 12.
Missing a game would cost Gronkowski $281,250 in lost salary.
The Patriots and Bills will play again in three weeks when Buffalo visits Gillette Stadium in Week 16.