This Rob Gronkowski bodyslam may lead to a suspension.

Receivers getting upset about calls not going in their favor is relatively common, but it’s rarer to see one of those receivers follow that up with a concussion-causing bodyslam of an on-the-ground player, or to try and defend that by saying they were frustrated. That’s what New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski did in Sunday’s 23-3 win over the Buffalo Bills, though. After Bills’ defensive back Tre’Davious White made an interception in coverage against Gronkowski and went to the ground, Gronkowski came running in after the whistle and took a flying leap onto White:

Here’s another angle:

Understandably, this sparked a whole lot of criticism, including from a reporter for the Bills’ website and then the team’s official Twitter account:

White was removed from the game and put in the concussion protocol. And that really speaks to the problem with this; this isn’t just Gronkowski acting out, but him doing so in a way that directly endangered another player. Many, including Concussion Legacy Foundation executive director Chris Nowinski, pointed out how troubling Gronkowski’s actions were:

Even Fox NFL rules analyst Dean Blandino was suprised Gronkowski wasn’t ejected from the game:

After the game, Gronkowski apologized, but said the hit was about “frustration” for not getting calls:

That apology shouldn’t excuse Gronkowski here. Plenty of players are frustrated every game, but don’t take that out on opponents after the whistle. And that’s not an explanation accepted by most. Even former Patriot Rodney Harrison had harsh words for Gronkowski on NBC’s Football Night In America, saying “If you do something like that to someone in the streets, you’re going to jail. He deserves to be suspended one game.” And New England head coach Bill Belichick apologized to Bills’ head coach Sean McDermott after the game:

But this is something that could have a longer-term impact, both for White and for Gronkowski. And the “frustrated” explanation isn’t going to be enough to excuse it. Just being frustrated isn’t enough to justify an after-the-whistle cheap shot that endangered another player, and it’s not an excuse the NFL should accept when deciding how to punish Gronkowski.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.