- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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We often hear players say that their body is their temple, and that was the first thought that came to mind when news surfaced Friday that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski might require back surgery.
While the potential back surgery is viewed as minor, it would still be surgery, and if that’s the way it unfolds, that will be five surgeries for Gronkowski since November (four on his left forearm, one on his back).
That represents a lot of stress on Gronkowski’s temple in a short period of time.
Yet if things go according to plan, Gronkowski wouldn’t miss any regular-season games if he has to undergo back surgery. So while it would be easy to go all gloom-and-doom, that’s not the sense I get from some folks close to the situation.
Still, this isn’t the way anyone would draw things up in the offseason playbook.
From this viewpoint, Gronkowski's forearm injury/recovery was partially due to some bad luck, and there was always a sense that Gronkowski ultimately will recover. It's just a matter of when. Doctors seem to feel Gronkowski is in a good place with the forearm right now.
But any issues with Gronkowski’s back fall into a different category and remind us that a back ailment at Arizona (different from this one) contributed to his slipping to the second round of the draft and missing his final college season.
Those thoughts weren't at the forefront of our thinking early in Gronkowski's NFL career. He was one of the most durable Patriots in his 2010 rookie season, never missing a game or practice. In 2011, he again played every game, and his durability was never really in question until an ankle injury in the AFC Championship Game.
At that point, he had all but erased health-based questions that surrounded him when he came out of college, and the Patriots rewarded him with a lucrative contract extension after his second season.
Now, fair or not, some of those same questions are back on the radar.