By Ken Reed
The New England Patriots’ man-child of a tight end, Rob Gronkowski, delivered one of the cheapest of cheap shots this past Sunday in a game against the Buffalo Bills.
His penalty? A one-game suspension. What a joke!
With New England leading 23-3 late in the fourth quarter, Bills rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White intercepted a pass intended for Gronkowski. The play ends with White lying out of bounds, face down. But Gronkowski’s not done. He launches his body as a human spear and plows into the defenseless, and unsuspecting, White. To make matters worse, Gronk delivers a forearm shiver to the back of White’s head.
It was a weak and cowardice move deserving of a multiple-game suspension. Instead the league, in the midst of a crisis regarding brain injuries, decides to sit him for a single game.
Here’s Jenkins at her analytical best:
“Deflategate, according to Goodell, was about conspiring to subvert the rules. But what NFL rules could matter more than those governing violence after the whistle? If Gronkowski’s hit is no big deal, if it’s only worth one game, then which rules do matter? Seantrel Henderson got 10 games for using medical marijuana. You can hit a man in the head or the back when he’s down in this league, but try to kill the pain with a little cannabis and it can cost you a season.”
The NFL’s disciplinary program is simply absurd.
What Gronkowski did on Sunday goes beyond a simple emotion-driven penalty in a game. As Jenkins points out, Gronkowski’s act was:
“calculated, ego-driven retaliation against an opponent who couldn’t have been more defenseless or still. Worst of all, it was a shot to the head, when Gronkowski knows full well that concussions can lead to long-term neurological problems, even fatal disease.”
In legal terms, this situation represents a classic tort, or wrongful injury. Gronkowski’s act — committed well after the whistle and the play had ended — could have seriously injured an innocent victim who was out of bounds.
One game? Please.
When it comes to exercising his broad disciplinary powers, it’s increasingly clear that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is incompetent.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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