Two Men in Hats: Hall-of-Fame voters Borges, Judge dissect the legacy of Gronk

Clark Judge

Hall-of-Fame voters Ron Borges and Clark Judge venture to Connecticut to discuss the legacy of Rob Gronkowski and where he fits in with the Hall-of-Fame hierarchy of tight ends.

Specifically, they address Gronk's chances of becoming a first-ballot choice when … and if … he's in the Class of 2024 and evaluate his place among the greatest tight ends of all time.

With Gronkowski's retirement last weekend, there was a rush to anoint him "the greatest tight end of all time," and, while that's understandable if you're a Patriots' fan, it's not if you're a history follower.

And Borges and Judge tell you why.

Besides, isn't that what America was calling Tony Gonzalez in early February after he was chosen to the Hall-of-Fame's Class of 2019? Nothing happened between then and now other than the Patriots won another Super Bowl and Gronk retired.

Borges and Judge also dissect Gronk's chances of becoming a first-ballot choice like Gonzalez, and here there is history on his side. Eight of the past 15 modern-era choices -- or over half the class of the past three years -- was elected on a first ballot.

But this just in: Only four Hall of Famers with fewer than 10 years in the NFL were first-ballot inductees: Gale Sayers (7), Earl Campbell (8), Dick Butkus (9) and Jim Brown (9).

Gronkowski played nine seasons.

Plus, there's the issue of longevity. There is no question that Gronkowski was an impact player who was one of the greatest tight ends ever ... when he played. But that's the catch: When he played. He failed to complete an entire season in seven of his nine years with New England, including none since 2011.

That could pose a problem, with Borges and Judge weighing the impact of durability on his first-ballot chances.

Look, there is no question Rob Gronkowski winds up in Canton. The only question is: When? And with tight ends Jason Witten and Antonio Gates nearing the finish lines, it's a valid one.

To gain an insider's look at what's next for Gronk -- and a look at the Hall-of-Fame process, please access the video that's attached.

Follow on Twitter @ClarkJudgeHOF

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