Patriots Signing Responds to 'Hate' Over Rob Gronkowski Drama

Despite receiving a lot of hate for wearing No. 87, New England Patriots TE Mitchell Wilcox is taking the high road when it comes to responding to his haters.
Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Jersey numbers are almost like a religious symbol when it comes to sports. The best athletes in the world wind up being associated with their respective jersey numbers, making it somewhat unfathomable to imagine anyone else wearing their digits.

That's exactly what New England Patriots fans have been dealing with when it comes to Mitchell Wilcox. Earlier this week, it was announced that Wilcox, who signed a one-year deal with the team in April, would be wearing No. 87 — the same number that was donned by Patriots legend Rob Gronkowski.

Although Wilcox has, unsurprisingly, received a lot of hate for his jersey choice, the veteran TE isn't letting it get the best of him.

Patriots News: Mitchelll Wilcox Responds to Rob Gronkowski Drama

On Tuesday, Wilcox took to X (formerly Twitter) to respond to his haters.

The former South Florida Bull wasted no time in acknowledging that Gronkowski's No. 87 "should sure as hell be retired." He even pointed out how much the legend means to the franchise, adding that he even had a Gronkowski poster in his room when he was younger.

And for those who are still mad about Wilcox's choice, regardless of how much he respects Gronkowski, it wasn't even his decision to make. The 27-year-old made sure to point out that it was the equipment staff that decided his number for him.

But even if Wilcox isn't to blame for his new digits, it won't stop Patriots fans from immediately thinking about Gronkowski whenever he's on the field.

Along with Tom Brady, Gronkowski formed one of the greatest duos throughout his Patriots tenure. The five-time Pro Bowl TE racked up over 7,800 yards with 79 touchdowns across 115 games in a New England jersey, also winning three Super Bowls while being named All-Pro four times.

That's without mentioning how Gronkowski also became a major fan favorite due to his infectious personality and endless number of comedic moments.

Wilcox, with all due respect, likely won't come close to reaching Gronkowski's heights. The Tarpon Springs, FL native wasn't that productive across three years with the Cincinnati Bengals, hauling in just 29 balls for 211 receiving yards and one touchdown in 48 career games.

Having said that, the Patriots didn't add Wilcox with the hope that he'd be an offensive machine. His moments come in pass protection, highlighted by his receiving a Pro Football Focus pass block grade of 72.1 or better in each of his first three seasons.

Time will tell what Wilcox's role looks like and whether or not he can help New England win football games this fall. As it stands, the Patriots' 2024 projected win total sits at 5.5 with the Under being favored (-142), per FanDuel Sportsbook.

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