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Peter King on M&M: If Rob Gronkowski remains out for Patriots, ‘I don’t know that they can make the playoffs’

10.11.13 at 1:48 pm ET

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Patriots and the Rob Gronkowski situation as well as other NFL news, incuding the controversy over the Redskins nickname.

With the latest report that Gronkowski still is having concerns about his surgically repaired right forearm, there is speculation that the tight end’s return to game action might be delayed some more. King said this could prove to be the Patriots’ undoing.

“Rob Gronkowski only has X number of snaps left in his body the rest of his career,” King said. “Obviously, everybody does. But I think he has a limited number of snaps in his body. He came into the league an injury question, and he has continued to be an injury question. Even though he’s played an awful lot, you’re always wondering is he going to break his forearm, is he going to have some neck problem or back problem, whatever?”

Added King: “At some point, he’s got to start playing or else we aren’t even going to be talking about eking into the playoffs, even as a fifth or sixth seed. I’m not positive about that, because you look at their schedule and it’s certainly possible. But I don’t know, if they have a gimpy [Danny] Amendola, and Gronkowski doesn’t play this year, I don’t know that they can make the playoffs. Even though, as I said, they have a manageable schedule.”

King said Belichick has to consider the risk of playing Gronkowski, especially with the Patriots coming off a loss and struggling to keep up with the top teams in the AFC.

“The only thing that’s going to matter to Bill Belichick, the only thing that matters to these fans is, what’s going to happen now?” King said. “To me, without Rob Gronkowski this week, unless they force two or three turnovers of the Saints, I don’t like their chances at all.

“To me, I think they’re facing a team that, like Denver — they’re kind of Denver Jr. right now. They’re not scoring at the pace Denver scores, but they’ve proven, outside, inside, wherever, that they can play defense now. So you’re going to have to get into a bit of a scoring contest with Drew Brees. And with what appeared to me to be last week Danny Amendola not at 100 percent, and obviously [Tom] Brady still getting comfortable with his guys, without Gronkowski I think it’s going to be a very tough game for them to win.”

King said he suspects Brady is frustrated with the organization’s inability to provide him with the receivers needed to be more competitive.

“Just reading the tea leaves and knowing Tom, last year — last whatever it was, February or March — he did — even though a lot of people subjected this to much derision — he did the Patriots a huge favor. He redid his contract to give them massive cap relief over the next couple of years, and clearly thought that they were going to have better weapons than they have now,” King said. “I haven’t gone back and looked, but I have to believe that over the first five weeks of the season, that as a crew this has to be the worst weaponry Brady has had since he’s become the starting quarterback of the team.

“It may turn out to be not that way. Kenbrell Thompkins might turn out to be a really good weapon; he looked like he was going to be that way in camp. But obviously, Brady thought that there was going to be more help, the cavalry was going to arrive. It hasn’t.

“I would only assume — and it’s an assumption, it’s no knowledge — I would only assume that he’s got to be very frustrated not only with the process of Gronkowski’s health but with the fact that he gave them this massive salary cap relief and he’s playing with a group of guys that clearly don’t compare to most of the teams he’s going to play against this year.”

Touching on the controversy over the Redskins nickname, King explained why he decided this year that he will no longer use the term in his stories.

“The last few years I’ve just been really uncomfortable every time I typed that word into my computer,” King said. “Every time I typed the word ‘Redskins’ I just felt like, ‘God, I really don’t like this, it just feels wrong.’ There are too many people — even though it’s not a majority of the people in America — there’s too many people who are insulted by it, who consider it a racial slur. You look it up in the dictionary and it’s called ‘racially offensive.’ ”

Added King: “It was a personal decision for me. I just don’t want to use it anymore. It’s very fair for people to say, ‘Oh, it was great for you to use it for 28 years, and now the 29th, 30th year you cover the league, why are you doing it now?’ The only thing I can say is that you grow as a person, you continue to think about things, you don’t stay static and keep doing something even if it feels wrong. And it just feels wrong to me.

“Now, about the reaction, I’d say 70 percent of it has been negative: ‘You have no right to do this; You’re a reporter covering the NFL, you’re not a political columnist; That’s the name of the team, you’ve got to use it.’ I understand, everybody gets very fired about this, [team owner] Dan Snyder gets fired up about it. It’s just a personal choice. I think a lot of people out there have written things about their opinions about this. I’m not saying I’m right. I don’t know that I’m right. But I just simply feel that uttering that word is offensive to me, so I don’t want to do it anymore.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at

Read More: Bill Belichick, Peter King, redskins, Rob Gronkowski



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