Our Worst Fears about Gronk

DATELINE: Water on the Brain?

Gronk (retired New England Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowsky) gave a rather humorless presser the other day in which he made some fairly peculiar statements in layman terms.

He alarmed us greatly when he began to talk about liquids in his brain, caused by football injury.

In his own simplistic way, he may have spoken about a hideous condition that surely means he would be mad to return to football. He discussed the ways you may recover and find some balm for the body and mind after the cruel sado-masochism of playing a game that makes jousting in armor appear to be civilized.

Gronk used terms that reminded us of the old phrase, “water on the brian.” You don’t hear it much anymore. It was a misleading term about spinal fluids unable to flow out of the head region. Doctors mght have called it “hydroencephalus” many decades ago.

Today it might better be explained in terms of concussion sysdrome: that repeated brain injury that has led former players to die too young, too suffer too much, to kill themselves, and to become violent shadows of their pleasant selves.

We think of former Patriot Junior Seau. Some players have donated their brains to research. It is frightful.

Gronk admitted that his brain injuries have given him mood swings already. He is not yet 30. If anyone wants to encourage him to return to the place that is already making his future a nightmare, they are greedy, mindless fans of a bloodsport.

We hope it is still early enough for full recovery for Gronk, though we fear that damage to the brain has been done and even in healing there will be scars, both mental and physical.

Liquids in his head and water on the brain, the end product of hydroencephus or concussions, is the horror no one in the NFL wants to face directly. Yes, they are men paid handsomely for the privilege of being media stars and marvels of physical heroism.

The price, we fear, may be far more devastating. It might make young stars like Gronk a shadow on the Moon, like a werewolf or cursed creature of night.

We do not think his simple declaration about strange liquids in his head should be dismissed as a childlike and preposterous notion. It is deadly.