By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady’s switch to a more modern, potentially safer* helmet this summer has drawn its fair share of attention, with the quarterback answering questions about the change multiple times over the past several weeks. But the same change has been made by the Patriots’ second-most important offensive player, with a bit less publicity.
Rob Gronkowski has been wearing a new helmet this summer in training camp and the preseason, and he was asked on Tuesday how he’s adapting to the change.
“Felt good,” Gronkowski said. “I got the new helmet on too, there’s a lot of us with it and it really fits on your head. There’s no lagging side-to-side. It just goes with you like it’s part of your head. It’s a great helmet.”
The 29-year-old Gronkowski suffered a concussion in the first half of January’s AFC Championship Game, after absorbing a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church. Gronkowski did return to the practice field during Super Bowl week, and he turned in a huge performance against Philadelphia with nine receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
Gronkowski said after that Super Bowl loss that he was contemplating retirement. He ultimately decided to return to the Patriots, and he said Tuesday that he’s feeling great physically.
“I feel good right now. I definitely feel like 100 times better than I did last year during training camp,” Gronkowski said. “When you’re feeling good, you love playing the game. I feel good enough to where I thought I could come back, go throughout the whole season, go throughout camp and just keep playing the game and be enjoying it. That’s how it’s been and when you’re enjoying the game, when you’re feeling good, you just love playing the game. It’s just something when you’re out on the field, like your mind is just in another place because you’re just focusing on what you got to do.”
That being said, Gronkowski was careful to not get too far ahead of himself in terms of his physical status.
“It’s a long season. It’s kind of hard to describe the body. I mean you got to go through it in order to understand,” Gronkowski said. “It’s on every play I would say. One day you could be feeling great and then the next day, you just don’t know how you’re going to feel. Taking hits, you could take a helmet to the thigh, you could take a helmet to the chest, wherever, and your body could just react differently. The swelling can react differently and then you’re feeling like garbage the next day. I can’t really ever get up here and ever say that I feel amazing because you just never know. Every single day though, I prepare myself to the fullest so I can feel the best I can feel the next day.”
*Helmet technology has surely evolved, but as doctors and scientists have stated many times, no helmet makes football “safe” for anybody.