As expected, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a torn ACL when hit low by Browns safety T.J. Ward on Sunday.
Per a league source, an MRI confirmed the damage. Gronkowski will miss the rest of the season. Surgery and rehab will affect his preparation for 2014.
The MRI also shows damage to the MCL. Surgical repair might not be needed of the MCL.
If so, that provides a bit of a silver lining. In 2008, Tom Brady tore an ACL and an MCL, and surgical tinkering with the MCL reportedly resulted in an infection.
For Gronkowski, who battled an infection following forearm surgery earlier this year, the prospect of future complications looms over the ACL repair.
“After the third [forearm] surgery, Robbie said, ‘I’m never doing this again,'” his mother said in October, amid questions that his return from forearm and back surgery was taking too long. “And weeks later, he’s back in for the fourth one. So he doesn’t want to go back where he was and start all over again. It wasn’t fun. It was so discouraging.”
The current situation will be discouraging for Gronkowski, the Patriots, and their fans. From his return in Week Seven through Week 13, the Patriots had the highest-scoring offense in the NFL.
Without Gronkowski, the task of getting back to the Super Bowl becomes a lot more challenging.