New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was suspended Monday for one game by the NFL for a late hit on Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White.
The NFL said Gronkowski was suspended for a violation of the league's unnecessary roughness rules.
"Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury," NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan wrote in a letter to Gronkowski. "The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of 'eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game.' Those hits include the play you were involved in yesterday."
ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Gronkowski will appeal the suspension, which would cost him $281,250 in lost salary.
The hit in question occurred late in Sunday's game after White intercepted quarterback Tom Brady. Acting out of frustration, Gronkowski dove onto White.
"Yeah, it was a nasty and dirty play. I've never seen him do that before," Bills running back LeSean McCoy said of how Gronkowski led with his shoulder in pile-driving a defenseless White in the back of the head in the fourth quarter of New England's 23-3 win Sunday.
White sustained a potential concussion in being hit with 4:50 remaining in the game.
Gronkowski was flagged for unnecessary roughness.
"He's a hell of a player, and a good person. Surprising," McCoy said.
"First of all, I definitely want to apologize to number 27," said Gronkowski. "I’m not in the business of that. There was a lot of frustration. I was just really frustrated at that moment and it just happened naturally through emotions and frustrations. I just want to apologize to Tre'Davious White. I don’t really believe in any types of shots like that but just through the frustration process - the game of football - emotions, (it's) what happened.”
The teams meet again in three weeks in Foxboro. The 10-2 Patriots next play the Dolphins in Miami on Monday Night Football.
Gronkowski will be eligible to return to the Patriots' active roster on Tuesday, Dec. 12 after the Dolphins game.
Here's a look at what people had to say about Gronk's hit on Twitter: