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How Serious Is Rob Gronkowski’s Season-Ending Injury?

Doctors aren’t sure what the future holds for New England’s star tight end

Rob Gronkowski

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Earlier last month, Rob Gronkowski suffered a pulmonary contusion to his lung when took one of the hardest hits of his career in a matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. He was cleared to played against the New York Jets a couple of weeks later, but he experienced pain in both his back and leg following an early hit in the game. It has since been revealed that he has a herniated disk in his lower back – not the news the New England Patriots were hoping for with the playoffs starting next month – which required him to undergo surgery on Friday.

As a result, Gronkowski’s family announced in a statement that they don’t expect him to return to the field this season.

Even though this is the third time in his career he has received back surgery, Gronkowski’s latest setback didn’t stop people from blaming the Madden Curse for it. (You know, despite the fact the “curse” has been debunked plenty of times before.) Many took to Twitter following the news he could be out for the remainder of the season by pointing the finger at EA Sports and saying they should’ve known all along this day would come.

Whatever the case may be, a former Patriots doctor painted a rather grim outlook of Gronkowski’s future by hinting his best days might be long behind him for reasons that extend far beyond the Madden Curse.

“There’s a whole saying that we have when we’re evaluating players at the Combine: Once a disk, always a disk,” Thomas Gill told WBZ. “Because even when it’s fixed, especially with an offensive lineman, we always downgrade offensive linemen when they’ve had a disk surgery because we know this is going to happen again. If this is the third time that it’s happened, again if it’s the same level, as tough a guy as he is, I’m not aware – certainly in my 16 years I’ve never had a player still in the league who had three disks on one level done.”

Another former NFL team doctor said Gronkowski has a “reasonable chance for full recovery,” by the way, while Gronkowski’s agent has said in the past that each of his surgeries were for different reasons, so it’s hard to predict how he’ll actually bounce back from all of this. 

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