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Sportress of Blogitude

Matt Patricia once took out Rob Gronkowski with trash can in practice?

Matt Patricia spun a yarn this week about an incident during a New England Patriots practice involving Rob Gronkowski that the then-defensive coordinator believed would result in his firing.

Patricia, entering his second season as head coach of the Detroit Lions, served as Bill Belichick’s D.C. from 2012-2017. Patricia revealed at the NFL owners meetings that he suspected his coaching career had come to an abrupt end due to his antics which involved throwing a garbage can at Gronkowski during a drill.

“We do a goal-line, seven-on-seven period every day in Friday practice,” Patricia said, as transcribed by NBC Sports Boston. “I would usually stand over the cans. We put the trash cans out there as the O-line. They’d be running crossing routes. A lot of times when you do seven-on-seven passing plays, the advantage goes to the offense. Being a defensive coach, I was trying to make it as difficult as possible.

“So Rob is running. He’s running a crossing route behind me, and I knew he was. I took the garbage can, and I just slung it backwards, and it caught him right in between the legs. He goes down hard and he’s laying on the ground and he’s not getting up. This is Friday before a game. I’m like, ‘This is it. I’m done. Gronk’s not getting up. This is about it.'”

It turns out, much to Patricia’s chagrin — not to mention relief — that Gronk was hamming it up and faking an injury.

“He’s playing it off. He was fine,” Patricia said. “But I was like, ‘Get. Up. Right now. Before I get fired. Like, what are you doing?’ Great guy.”

With Gronkowski announcing his retirement following a Hall of Fame-caliber career, expect more stories like the one Patricia shared to be in abundance as people fondly recall what made Gronk such a unique and off-the-wall character.