As the saying goes, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. It’s still smart in certain cases to get permission.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski obtained permission from the team before climbing into the ring, assuming a three-point stance, and blasting a fake-sport participants with a very real shoulder blow at WrestleMania 33.
Specifically, the situation was discussed with the team in advance, and the team did not object.
The Patriots have declined to comment on the matter.
Gronkowski was wise to seek permission, given the plain language of the standard player contract. Per paragraph 3, titled “Other Activities”: “Without prior written consent of the Club, Player will not play football or engage in activities related to football otherwise than for Club or engage in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury. Player represents that he has special, exceptional and unique knowledge, skill, ability, and experience as a football player, the loss of which cannot be estimated with any certainty and cannot be fairly or adequately compensated by damages. Player therefore agrees that Club will have the right, in addition to any other right which Club may possess, to enjoin Player by appropriate proceedings from playing football or engaging in football-related activities other than for Club or from engaging in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury.”
In English, this means that the team has the power to go to court to block a player from engaging in activities that “may involve a significant risk of personal injury.” The Titans did just that a decade ago, after then-suspended cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones wanted to become a pro wrestler in his spare time.
The Titans initially obtained a temporary restraining order, and the case was resolved when Jones agreed he wouldn’t engage in any actual wrestling activities.
It’s a bit surprising that the Patriots would agree to allow Gronkowski to engage in any physical activity, especially since his season was derailed prematurely by back surgery. They apparently did.
Even if they hadn’t, it’s hard to imagine that the Patriots would have filed a lawsuit or otherwise sparked a public fight over the situation. He continues to be an important part of the team, and teams tend to tolerate a little bit more from those kinds of players.