There are certain things you can expect from every Super Bowl. Every year, there is a pre-game flyover, nachos, wings, halftime fireworks, more nachos, more wings, followed by a Gatorade bath for the winning coach. Sometime between the flyover and the final nacho, there will be several cringeworthy big hits.
Brandon Browner, a member of the Legion of Boom last year who now plays for the Patriots, made that very clear. He told ESPN that he would tell the Pats’ offense to “go after” Richard Sherman’s elbow. “Hit it, break it if you can,” he said.
The conversation about players going after opponents’ lingering injuries is certainly familiar to Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski. As noted a couple of months ago, Gronk’s surgically-repaired knee has been targeted by opposing linebackers and safeties all year long.
Earlier this season, when Gronk was hit in the knee by T.J. Ward (the player responsible for blowing out his knee in 2013), Gronk called it “a punk making a punk-ass play.”
Ward, like Browner, defended his right to go after an injured body part. He explained that if he tried to hit Gronk in the numbers, Ward, who weighs 60 pounds less, would “bounce off him.”
“I was taught that if you can take a guy’s wheels away from him, he’s no longer mobile, and that’s what you’ve got to do with big guys.”
Sherman jokingly told Browner that his comments would make things a lot harder for Pats’ receivers, but downplayed the exchange when pressed by the media.
“Nobody intentionally hurts anyone in this league that I know of. Guys have respect for one another and I know Brandon does too,” Sherman said.
Still, with everything on the line, the Patriots’ and Seahawks’ relentless defenses wouldn’t be caught making a lazy arm tackle in the Super Bowl.
No matter how much respect Sherman may have for the Pats receiving corps, he will likely have to bring down Gronk in the open field at some point on Sunday. Sherman is an excellent tackler, but he is three inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter. When he gets his chance, he’ll hit low too. If it’s extra painful for Gronk, so be it.