What do you make of Gronk's recent mocking of an Asian man in light of the Richie Incognito fiasco?
Raj: It really doesn't bother me. Even if he was making fun of an Indian man (that's my ethnic background), I still wouldn't mind because I know Gronkowski is not a true racist. Neither is Incognito in my opinion after seeing his interview with Jay Glazer. The media likes to spice up things beyond the appropriate limit, which is really disappointing. The fact that this situation with Gronk is even in the news is puzzling.
Jason: I know that I'll be in the minority here, but I think Gronk may be approaching the point where his production on the field doesn't make up for the distractions he causes off the field. His talent is unquestioned, but (as my grandpa would say) if brains were dynamite, he wouldn't have enough to blow his nose. It's obviously not just about these racially insensitive comments. It's a pattern of stupid, immature, irresponsible behavior dating back several years that demonstrates that he cares more about himself than the team. It seems like he's suffering from the same kind of emotional issues that dogged professionally talented but personally flawed players like Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens. It makes you wonder if isn't falling prey to the same ills that felled those guys – surrounding himself with too many folks who discourage him from having any sense of responsibility or humility. By all accounts, he came from a wonderful family, but it's all too easy for a small-town guy to fall into a rut of self-indulgence when gifted with endless supplies of money and fame with little source of accountability. Personally, I'd like to see him go to counseling or get traded to another team in the offseason. The value he'd provide in terms of draft pick compensation and cap space would be invaluable.
Derek: Do I think Gronk's comments were malicous or hateful? No. Do I think they were stupid given the volatile media storm that is currently swirling over Incognito's racist texts? Absolutely. However, that's about as far as I would go. It was a dumb thing to do, just like going shirtless after the Super Bowl loss or performing a DDT at a bar after arm surgery. Gronk clearly isn't a choir boy who follows the "Patriot Way" like it's scripture. At the same time though, he has yet to do anything that has affected his ability to be at his best on game days and he is clearly one of the most valuable players on the team.
From that standpoint, I disagree wholeheartedly with Jason and see no reason for him and the Patriots to part ways. He isn't Terrell Owens or even Chad Ochocinco. He's a young guy who's a bit of a goofball and just happens to be playing football in 2013 where everyone has a camera phone and can tweet his antics in seconds. If he was playing in 1993, we'd never know about this stuff and just think he's a beast of a football player. You can make the argument that he should realize how scrutinized his actions are and adjust accordingly with less "controversial" behavior. At the same time, it's unrealistic for him to go into hiding and not have fun just because he's worried about some fan with a cellphone making a Vine of him.
There's a reason why I'll probalby never own a Gronkowski jersey, but I shudder to think of where this team would be in January without him.