Tony Gonzalez, Football Legend

Austin B.

Assistant Editor

Could Tony Gonzalez, a future Hall-of-Fame inductee, end his career after sixteen powerful seasons? After having left such a monstrous impact on the National Football League, Gonzalez claims that he is 95% sure that the 2012-2013 season was his last.

Gonzalez was born on February 27, 1976, in Torrance, California, and was raised by Judy Gonzalez, his mother, who worked two jobs to support Tony and his brothers. With his father being Portuguese, Scottish, and Jamaican, and his mother being African American, Caucasian, Native American, and Hispanic, Gonzalez is one of the most diverse players in the NFL. He attended Huntington Beach High School, in Huntington Beach, California, lettering in basketball, baseball, and most prominently, football. After his senior year, Gonzalez shared the award for Orange County High School Athlete of the Year with future pro golfer Tiger Woods. After high school, he attended the University of California Berkley, where he majored in communications.

In college, Gonzalez played for the California Golden Bears football and basketball teams, playing under future 49ers/Lions coach Steve Mariucci. Gonzalez was chosen as an All-American selection and an All-Pac-10 as well while playing for the Golden Bears. In basketball, he led the Golden Bears to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA basketball tournament. At the end of his college career, Gonzalez had to decide in which sport he would pursue a professional career. In an interview, he stated, “You get done playing football and then you transition to basketball, which had already been going on for a month, but ultimately, the decision was pretty much made for me.” Gonzalez made the decision to pursue his football career, becoming a part of the 1997 NFL Draft.

In the draft, Gonzalez was one of the top-ranked tight ends and was considered a top 15 selection. The Chiefs traded up from the 18th to the 13th choice with the Houston Oilers in order to get him. Sophomore Jacob Beckham states, “Tony is one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He is a legendary contributor and the ultimate team player. He redefined the tight end position.” Gonzalez started his career with the 1997 Kansas City Chiefs, ending his rookie season with thirty-three receptions, two touchdowns, and a blocked punt while he was on special teams. These factors helped the Chiefs end the season with the best win-loss record in the American Football Conference (AFC). Gonzalez’s stats greatly increased in the 1998 season; he caught 59 passes, nearly doubling his previous season record. His performance was even more prominent in the 1999 season where he recorded 76 receptions and 11 touchdowns. Because of his season statistics, Gonzalez was voted to his first ever Pro Bowl; this would be the first of many appearances he would make in the Pro Bowl.

After having played 13 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Gonzalez was traded to the Atlanta Falcons in return for a second-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft on April 23, 2009. In his first regular season game with the Falcons, he caught a touchdown pass and became the first ever tight end and the 21st ever player to haTony G. AB 3ve 11,000 receiving yards. In the 2010 season opener, Gonzalez made his 1,000th career catch, making him the first tight end and seventh player to reach this checkpoint overall. Gonzalez came near the point of retirement during the 2011 NFL Lockout, rather than waiting around until the lockout was over, but decided against it, even claiming that he still had three seasons left in him. On opening day of the 2012 season, Tony Gonzalez became the first ever tight end to catch 100 touchdown passes. At the end of the 2012 regular season, the Falcons proceeded to the playoffs. Going into the season, Gonzalez had never won a post-season game, but by the end of the playoffs, he had broken the curse. On January 13, 2013, he and the rest of the Falcons beat the Seattle Seahawks, 30-28. Finally succeeding in the post-season was a massive achievement for the tight end, possibly even his most important accomplishment.

Throughout his career, Gonzalez succeeded in many different areas of the game. He attended 13 different Pro Bowls, setting the record for most by a tight end and tied for second most by any player to ever play the game. Beckham claims that he believes Gonzalez’s most paramount accomplishment was becoming the NFL Alumni Tight End of the Year “not once, but twice.” Gonzalez has stated that he is 95 percent sure that he will not return for the 2013 season, and should that be the case, he will have ended his career with 1,242 career receptions, 14,268 yards (averaging 11.3 yards per reception), and 103 career touchdown catches. Tony Gonzalez is known as one of the greatest tight ends to ever play football, and while the chances of seeing him come back for another season are very slim, fans everywhere would love to see his reappearance. Should this be the end of his career, it is one that no one will forget.

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