New England tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't play in the Patriots' recent Super Bowl LI victory over Atlanta.
But sitting on the sidelines recovering from his back injury gave Gronkowski an even deeper appreciation for the kind of fans that support his team.
It's convinced him to fear for the safety of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell if he ever visits New England games at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
Goodell's much-publicized suspension of New England quarterback Tom Brady at the start of last season still doesn't sit well with most of the Patriots' fanbase. Gronkowski told ESPN's Cari Champion that he doesn't think Goodell could attend a Patriots game -- at least any time soon.
"To tell you the truth? I really don't think so," Gronkowski said. "The fans are nuts. They are wild. They have the Patriots' back no matter what. They have Tom's back, I'm telling you. [Goodell] won't get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don't even think he can land in the airport in Boston, because Patriots fans are the best fans. They're the most loyal fans.
"I'm telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn't even get to the stadium in Foxborough, if he landed in Boston."
Gronkowski finished the 2016 season with 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns. He was injured in New England's eighth game of the season and missed the rest of the year.
But watching from the sidelines did provide one particular sense of enjoyment for Gronkowski.
"It was great to see him hand over that trophy, for sure," Gronkowski said of Goodell. "I was super happy for Tom [Brady]."
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