BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski says there is “no doubt” he will be ready for the start of the 2017 season despite undergoing the third back surgery of his career. “Yes, for sure,” Gronkowski told Cari Champion on ESPN when asked if he expects to play in Week 1. “No doubt.”
Gronkowski, who underwent season-ending back surgery in December, played only eight games during the 2016 season after missing time earlier in the season with a hamstring injury and bruised lung. Gronkowski’s injury history has put his future in question, with the 27-year-old Pro Bowler undergoing eight surgeries as an NFL player.
“I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I can possibly play. My mindset is to keep on going,” Gronkowski said.
Gronkowski finished the 2016 season with 25 catches for 540 yards and three touchdowns but had to watch from the sideline as his teammates rallied from a historic 25-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime in Super Bowl LI.
Tom Brady threw for a Super Bowl-record 466 yards, two touchdowns and one interception to win his fifth championship ring and record fourth Super Bowl MVP Award.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who suspended Brady for four games to open the 2016 season over the Deflategate scandal, presented the Lombardi Trophy to Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
“It was great to see him hand over that trophy, for sure,” Gronkowski said of Goodell. “I was super happy for Tom.”
Gronkowski was asked whether Goodell could come back to Foxborough anytime soon.
“To tell you the truth? I really don’t think so,” Gronkowski told ESPN. “The fans are nuts. They are wild. They have the Patriots’ back no matter what. They have Tom’s back, I’m telling you. (Goodell) won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can land in the airport in Boston, because Patriots fans are the best fans. They’re the most loyal fans.
“I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxborough, if he landed in Boston.”
Kraft said before the Super Bowl that he would invite Goodell for the Patriots’ 2017 season opener if they won another title.
Goodell hasn’t attended a Patriots game at Gillette Stadium since January 2015 when New England defeated the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game that started the Deflategate saga