Kevin Crompton – Sports Editor
A friend of mine showed me a recent photo shopped image of current New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and retired New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor going head to head at the goal line. The image was captioned “Does Gronk score here?” After much debate on who would win the matchup I’ve decided to dive in deeper to this fan-posed question. Would we witness a “Gronk spike” in the end zone or is L.T. sticking it to the 6-foot-6 tightened?
First off let’s set the scene. In this hypothetical scenario, both players are in their prime with no lingering injuries — rare for Gronkowski but just try to imagine a time when that was the case. The Patriots have the ball inside the redzone and Taylor is playing off the line in a zone coverage. Brady takes the snap and fires out to Gronk on a short route in the flat. Gronk catches the ball cleanly on the five-yard line, tucks it away, establishes himself and turns up field. In front of him stands one of the most feared players in NFL history — number 56, Lawrence Taylor. Both players are in ideal positions for what each of them is going to attempt to do. Gronk has his shoulders square to the goal line and L.T. breaks down cleanly ready to deliver the hit.
Now for some numbers. Rob Gronkowski is listed at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds. Taylor a tad smaller in his prime, was listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds. Okay, so Gronk has three inches and 25 pounds on the linebacker. At first glance it appears to be advantage Gronk however I argue that the three-inch height differential puts Gronk at a disadvantage. You’ve heard the saying low man wins and as cliché as it might be, it’s almost always accurate. If Gronk is going to attempt to run through L.T., he must lower his pads those three inches just to be at Taylor’s standing height and then much more to put himself in the right position to lay the truck stick. Sounds miniscule but it’s something that should be considered. Next is the weight. Twenty-five pounds is a lot. A clear advantage for Gronk however, it’s not the difference maker. The most important factor in this situation is technique therefore Rob Gronkowski is stood up at the goal line by the Hall of Famer. At the end of the day Lawrence Taylor is a better tackler than Gronk is a runner. Sorry Pats fans — another heartbreaker courtesy of New York.