I will never be too bougie for a good BOK conversation. Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes vs. Tom Brady, The wire vs. Breaking Bad, lemon pepper vs buffalo, give me a beer and I’ll sink my teeth into either one. Driving on radio, Hall of Famer and host of the messiest podcast in america – Shannon Sharpe – was asked who he believes is the greatest tight end of all time. He said Travis Kelce is the GOATand it’s a notion I hear with more frequency as Rob Gronkowski’s career fades further into the past.
A host of new Kelce fans burst onto the scene this season. This group has spent all of Gronk’s years as Tom Brady’s no. 1 target missed. A short video of Gronk highlights went viral over the weekend. I know that many of the Swifties are new to football, but even they should be able to tell from this video that there is only one GOAT tight end.
Gronkowski was the size of an offensive tackle from the 1980s and was just as tenacious. He also had the ball tracking skills of a wide receiver. The man was a Frankenstein football monster created in a laboratory. A monster so dominant that the Patriots decided to trade Randy Moss two weeks after they smoked Darrelle Revis so badly the future Hall of Fame corner pulled a hamstring.
Kelce is the more elusive player. He has the Kansas City Chiefs’ No. 1 target after Tyreek Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins. Even with all that attention on him, Kelce had arguably his best season as a pro in 2022 with 110 receptions for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns. At 34, 93 catches for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2023 is considered a down year for him.
The only statistical argument in Gronk’s favor when comparing the two is yards per reception. His career average is 15 while Kelce’s is only 12.5. Averaging two and a half more yards per catch shouldn’t negate the fact that Kelce has already surpassed 11,000 receiving yards and 100 touchdowns and will likely reach 1,000 receptions if he plays next season.
Except those of us who watch Gronk play know how he got that extra two and a half yards per catch. He did this by running through MF faces. Bumping through secondaries and linebacking corps may have taken a few years off his career, but it was great to watch.
That clip went viral because scoring stats aren’t even close to the only way to measure the impact of a player. The same way that album sales shouldn’t be the only way to measure the impact of an artist. People need to watch the games and listen to the music to experience the full picture created by these artists.
Gronk’s impact was felt in the shoulders and face masks of NFL players for 11 seasons. He threw his teammates all over the field in a way that probably no other tight end ever has — certainly not Kelce. Both will one day receive gold jackets, but only one of the two beaten opponents is week in and week out. That player had a one-syllable nickname, and he’s the GOAT tight end.