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The Sports Edge – End of an era?

December 7, 2016
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The Sports Edge – End of an era? (AP file photo)

Some of the greatest duos in entertainment history had careers together that were all too brief. Martin & Lewis, Simon & Garfunkel, Calvin & Hobbes, Britney & K-Fed - OK, I might have reached too far for that one, but you get the point. 

The truth is that sometimes, amazing partnerships burn hot and fast and are gone too soon - and it sure seems like that may the case with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

The season-ending back surgery announced over the weekend for Gronk certainly is a harsh reminder that, if he and Brady ever do play together again, Patriots fans should savor every catch and every last touchdown celebration as if it IS the last. Brady has shown that he can win without the big guy - and Martellus Bennett is one of the best at his position - but that combo will never have the magic of Brady to Gronk.

The numbers don’t tell the entire tale, but what a story they present.

In less than seven seasons, the man-child Gronkowski has hauled in 405 passes for 6,095 yards and 68 touchdown receptions. For his career, he’s averaging 15.0 yards per catch and currently leads the NFL this season with a 21.6 average. Remarkably, in those 400-plus times he caught a pass, seemingly always in traffic, Gronk has fumbled the ball just two times.

Unfortunately, #87 also seems to be one of those players who always finds a way to get hurt. That big body that looks so indestructible when he’s rambling toward the end zone masks a fragility that has dogged him throughout his career and has so often left the team saying, “if they have a healthy Gronk…”

One has to wonder if this setback may lead management (Belichick) to decide the uncertainty isn’t worth the unquestioned talent of that healthy tight end. Coach Bill isn’t commenting, but one only has to ask people like Richard Seymour, Lawyer Milloy, Logan Mankins, Deion Branch and Jamie Collins about how deep the boss’ loyalty runs.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room - how will this other magical duo end their run?

Brady and Belichick have exceeded the tenure of combos like Bradshaw and Noll, Lucy and Desi and even Phil and Don Everly, proving that some things are thicker than blood. The greatest player-coach partnership in sports history is in its twilight and one has to wonder if the curtain comes down with Bill and Tom hoisting one more Lombardi Trophy aloft or with Brady wrapping up his legendary career in a Unitas-like exile, wearing #12 in a strange-looking uniform.

For now, Patriots fans, just revel in the recent memory of Brady-to-Gronk awesomeness, appreciate the amazing times you’ve enjoyed and take solace in the fact that this union lasted much longer than the likes of Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson.

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