CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Disappointed. That’s how two local youth coaches said they felt about Rob Gronkowski’s late hit during Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
The hit was ruled “unnecessary” and, as a result, the NFL suspended the star tight end for a game.
Gronkowski – who is a fan favorite and popular with young fans – apologized afterward, saying he let his frustration get the best of him.
Tom Centore, the head football coach for Cranston High School East, said he was glad to see Gronk own up to his actions.
“We talk about sportsmanship and reaction. Ownership is a big part of it and that was one thing I was glad to see,” Centore said.
Ron Robert, head coach for the CLCF Chiefs 13U football team, said players like Gronk need to remember that children are watching them.
“I mean, people love Gronk,” he said. “He’s kind of an icon, so he has to be careful with what he’s doing out there.”
Still, Robert said the situation can be a good learning opportunity for young athletes.
“We’re teaching football, but as coaches, we’re raising young men and women in all sports, so we have to teach the kids to do the right thing,” Robert added.
Both Robert and Centore said they believe the NFL’s punishment is appropriate and that no matter who you are, or what you may see others do, they teach their young players to always play with class.
“Talking about discipline and staying under control is the most important thing to do,” Centore said.
Chris Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation in Boston, also weighed in on Gronk’s suspension.
“A concussion may not look serious, but it can end a career,” he said. “It’s important to use this as a teaching opportunity to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Too often we forget that just one action can change someone’s life, and to put it simply, you should never hit another person in the head.”