Head injuries are a serious matter for the NFL, which is making rule changes and fining players more often in hopes of preventing future brain damage to its athletes. However, some players apparently would rather be hit high and risk a concussion than take a low hit that risks their knees.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was one such player who took a shot below the waist, and the two-time Pro Bowler paid the price with a season-ending ACL tear. In a conversation on WAAF's The Hill-Man Morning Show, Gronkowski said it's "obvious" that he would prefer to be hit high by defenders.
"That's a pretty obvious answer," Gronkowski told the show. "Would I rather have a concussion and be out for three days or rather have a knee injury and be rehabbing for six months? I would rather have a concussion and be out for three days anytime."
Gronkowski, 24, has developed a reputation for his outsized personality, but his opinion may not be unique. With millions of dollars tied to NFL careers that could end just as soon as they begin, it's not inconceivable that some players would rather risk the long-term damage of a concussion than miss a whole season due to a knee injury.
Then-Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward drew criticism for his season-ending hit on the New England tight end, but he defended it as a play he had to make. After three fines for high hits during his career, Ward dodged a fourth by hitting Gronkowski low, and avoided a potential suspension.
Gronkowski would not say on the radio show whether he will be ready for Week 1 of the 2014 regular season, although he did say that the recovery process has been going well.