Former New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison had some harsh words for tight end Rob Gronkowski on Wednesday, telling ESPN Chicago Radio 1000 that the young Patriots tight end "disrespected himself" by dancing and taking off his shirt at the team's postgame party following the Super Bowl XLVI loss to the Giants.
"I guarantee you this, if Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Larry Izzo, Richard Seymour or myself had been at that party, [Gronkowski] probably would have got his head rung," said Harrison, who admitted he has not seen the video or photos of Gronkowski dancing at the party. "There's no reason for that to happen."
"When we lost the Super Bowl, any of my Super Bowl losses, I was so devastated the last thing I ever wanted to do was party, let alone dance or take off your shirt," he added. "It's just immaturity. It's not right. He made a mistake and I'm sure he feels absolutely stupid about it at this point. There's a time and place for everything."
Harrison, who is also an NBC football analyst, suffered Super Bowl losses with the San Diego Chargers in 1995 and with the Patriots in 2008. In that 2008 game, Harrison was defending on the notorious David Tyree helmet catch that set up the Giants' game-winning touchdown.
When told that veteran Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light was also photographed with his shirt off, Harrison said he was "surprised." To Harrison, it's the veteran leadership on the team that should have ensured something like that didn't happen.
"The leadership has to step up and someone has to pull [Gronkowski] to the side and say, 'Look young man, this is inappropriate, this is not the time nor the place. You need to grow up,'" Harrison said. "And that's what it comes down to. I like this kid. I think he's a good kid, works hard, is unselfish. But he made a mistake ...
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"There's a certain way of representing yourself and your family and that's not the right way."
Harrison said he thought the team would sit down with Gronkowski to discuss the situation.
"That's something internally that they're going to have to deal with," he said. "I'm sure Bill Belichick is addressing it. I'm sure he's very disappointed about that."
Harrison's opinion is not one shared across the board in the football biz. Former Patriots defensive coordinator and current ESPN analyst Eric Mangini said Monday he didn't have a problem with the actions of the 22-year-old Gronkowski, who was not 100 percent in the game due to a high ankle sprain.
"I don't think he was celebrating the loss. What they were celebrating was the accomplishment of getting there," Mangini said on "SportsCenter." "It's the last time they're going to be together. There's going to be so much change with free agency and the draft. This is the last time this group of men are going to be together, and they have their families. Did he take it too far, was there alcohol? I don't know any of those things. But I don't think it was a celebration or him not caring about the fact they lost. It was more the event of being together in that moment."
Details from the post-Super Bowl party, which was held under a tent on the outfield grass at Victory Field, home of Indianapolis' minor league baseball team, are sketchy and the team has yet to comment on the photos and video that have emerged. According to the Boston Herald, more than half the team was in attendance at some point, but that group did not include Tom Brady, Wes Welker or Belichick. The Boston Globe described the mood at the event as "anything but joyous."
Some Patriots fans were also at the event. At one point, according to the Herald, Light got on stage to address the crowd.
"Is everybody OK?" asked Light, according to the Herald. "I tell you what, if ever there was a time to raise your glasses it's right now. We're gonna toast to the greatest organization in the NFL. It's time to toast the 2011 New England Patriots."
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