Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is the life of the party wherever he goes. In Houston, on Super Bowl Sunday, he is sure to entertain a crowd in an NRG Stadium luxury suite. But Gronkowski would rather be on the field. The Patriots' All-Pro tight end had surgery on a herniated disk in early December, ending his season prematurely.

Gronk is not the first star to watch his team play in the Super Bowl from a distance. Phil Simms, Ty Law and Von Miller are among those crucial players to show up to Super Bowl Sunday in a brace or on crutches. Gronk follows in the footsteps of these ten individuals.

And hey, some of these guys even got rings without taking a snap in the postseason.

Pat Haden: Super Bowl XIII (Loss)

Getty Images Pat Haden: Super Bowl XIII (Loss)

In his second NFL season in 1977, Haden replaced a struggling Joe Namath in Week 5 to lead the Rams to an NFC West crown and earn a Pro Bowl bid. In 1978, he went a step further, bringing the team to the NFC Championship Game. But in 1979, the injury bug struck Haden. He fractured his right pinky finger in Week 10, leaving the 5-5 Rams in the hands of Vince Ferragamo and Jeff Rutledge. Ferragamo emerged as the starter and led the Rams all the way to the Super Bowl, where they lost 31-19 to the Steelers. Haden started 1980 and 1981 as the starter, but injuries caused him to lose the job again both seasons.

Art Monk: Super Bowl XVII (Win)

Getty Images Art Monk: Super Bowl XVII (Win)

The Redskins' "Fun Bunch" missed Monk for the entire postseason due to a broken foot, but the team still rallied for a 27-17 Super Bowl win over the Dolphins. Monk, now a Hall of Famer, got his chances in Super Bowl XXII and Super Bowl XXVI, winning both and going for seven receptions for 113 receiving yards in the latter.

Phil Simms: Super Bowl XXV (Win)

Getty Images Phil Simms: Super Bowl XXV (Win)

Simms was four years removed from a Super Bowl MVP award, but he couldn't help the Giants in Tampa Bay. In Week 15, during a Giants' loss to the Bills (ironically the team they beat 20-19 in the Super Bowl), Simms broke his foot and was lost for the season. Jeff Hostetler stepped in and ran the table, culminating in a world championship thanks to Scott Norwood's missed 47-yard field goal. Hostetler and Simms jostled for playing time over the next two seasons. Simms gained a firm hand on the job in 1993, making one final Pro Bowl and leading the Giants to a win against the Vikings in the wild-card round of the playoffs. He retired thereafter.

Ray Donaldson: Super Bowl XXX (Win)

Getty Images Ray Donaldson: Super Bowl XXX (Win)

A six-time Pro Bowl center, Donaldson broke his right ankle late in the 1995 season, missing the Cowboys' final four games and the postseason. Fellow veteran Derek Kennard filled in, and the Cowboys knocked off the Steelers 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX. Donaldson won his only ring that year and he played one more season before calling it quits.

David Patten: Super Bowl XXXVIII (Win)

Getty Images David Patten: Super Bowl XXXVIII (Win)

In the second Super Bowl season of his three title years with New England, Patten, who had a touchdown reception in Super Bowl XXXVI, went down in Week 6 to a knee injury. He missed the Patriots' 32-29 Super Bowl XXXVIII win over the Panthers. Patten returned the next season to suit up in all 16 games, as the Pats won their third title in four years.

Ty Law: Super Bowl XXXIX (Win)

Getty Images Ty Law: Super Bowl XXXIX (Win)

Law arguably peaked in 2003, when he earned his second All-Pro nod, won his second Super Bowl and intercepted Peyton Manning three times in the AFC Championship Game. In the seventh game of 2004, a foot injury sidelined Law for the rest of the season. Law still earned another ring, as the Patriots beat the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX, but the team released him in the offseason. Law signed with the rival Jets and never won a Super Bowl again.

Tommie Harris: Super Bowl XLI (Loss)

Getty Images Tommie Harris: Super Bowl XLI (Loss)

Coming off a second-team All-Pro season, Harris started 2006 with five sacks in the Bears' first four games. But he cooled off during the season and in Week 13, Harris tore his hamstring, ending his year. The 13-3 Bears still reached the Super Bowl, but lost to the Colts 29-17.

Jeremy Shockey: Super Bowl XLII (Win)

Getty Images Jeremy Shockey: Super Bowl XLII (Win)

Shockey was a four-time Pro Bowler with the Giants when he fractured his fibula in Week 15 of 2007. Rookie fifth-round pick Kevin Boss, who had caught just three passes before the game of Shockey's injury, was forced to take over as the Giants' starting tight end. Boss' one Super Bowl catch was a 45-yard reception that stood as the longest play of the game from scrimmage. The Giants upset the 18-0 Patriots, 17-14 (with Fox showing Shockey in a suite, appearing to be drinking during the game). Shockey was traded in the offseason and won Super Bowl XLIV as a Saint, catching a touchdown en route to his second ring.

Maurkice Pouncey: Super Bowl XLV (Loss)

Getty Images Maurkice Pouncey: Super Bowl XLV (Loss)

Pouncey burst onto the NFL scene in 2010, making a Pro Bowl and earning second-team All-Pro honors as a rookie. But Pouncey's season came to a halt in the AFC Championship Game, when he suffered a high ankle sprain. At 21 years and 322 days, Pouncey would have become the youngest player to ever play in a Super Bowl. Without Pouncey, the Steelers lost 31-25 to the Packers, and Pouncey has not made it back since.

Von Miller: Super Bowl XLVIII (Loss)

Getty Images Von Miller: Super Bowl XLVIII (Loss)

It's easy to forget the Super Bowl 50 MVP actually missed his first opportunity to play in the big game. During Miller's disastrous 2013 season (which saw him suspended six games for multiple positive drug tests), he tore his ACL in Week 16, only playing nine games during the year. The Broncos actually went 9-1 without Miller that season with the only loss being a 43-8 Super Bowl thrashing at the hands of the Seahawks.

Rob Gronkowski: Super Bowl LI (???)

Getty Images Rob Gronkowski: Super Bowl LI (???)

Gronk would have been the most entertaining character in Houston leading up to the Super Bowl, but instead, he will be in a box with that weird open-button-down shirt look. Gronkowski struggled with a back injury all season and after Week 12, opted for surgery to repair a herniated disk. This is not the first time Gronkowski has been hindered by an injury around Super Bowl time. In Super Bowl XLVI, Gronk played through a high ankle sprain. He was limited to only two receptions for 26 yards in the game and missed a potential Hail Mary catch to win. However, in Super Bowl XLIX, Gronkowski made six catches for 68 yards and caught a touchdown in a Patriots' win.

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