Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots has been suspended without pay for one game for a violation of unnecessary roughness rules in Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations JON RUNYAN issued the suspension for multiple violations of NFL rules, including Rule 12, Section 2, Article 6 which prohibits "unnecessary roughness" and specifically bans both "forcibly contacting a runner when he is out of bounds," and "running, diving into…or throwing the body against or on a player who (1) is out of the play or (2) should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead," as well as Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 which prohibits "initiating unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture". Players who are "on the ground" are both "defenseless" and protected from "forcible" hits to the "head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder."
In his letter to Gronkowski, Runyan wrote:
"Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury. The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of 'eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game.' Those hits include the play you were involved in yesterday."
Gronkowski will be eligible to return to the Patriots' active roster on Tuesday, December 12 following the team's December 11 Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either DERRICK BROOKS or JAMES THRASH, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.