Earlier this week, Atlanta Falcons veteran tight end, Tony Gonzales officially stated that he would retire at the end of next season. His retirement would put an end to one of the all-time greats of the game. In the three years he has been an Atlanta Falcon, Tony has brought a level of play and personal professionalism that is almost unrivaled by anything I have ever heard of. His teammates also appreciate his enormous work ethic because it allows him to play at a very high level that most people would not be able to play at the ripe age of 35. And for a tight end in this league, that his rather old. But when you see him play, it looks as though he is 25.
In the past three years I have watched Tony Gonzales play every Sunday and I can honestly say that I have rarely seen a man play as hard and as clean as this man. He takes pride in everything he does and it shows with how he plays on the field. In these last three seasons, Tony has been one of if not the only consistent receiver that Matt Ryan has had to throw to. And I know some people will say, “what about Roddy?” Well Roddy is great but he does drop the ball with a rather high frequency. Tony, however, has remained a stable in the red zone as well as on third downs and he almost always brings in the ball when possible. He has also made several catches that some would think impossible. Case in point would be the one handed juggling touchdown grab he made earlier this year with several defenders draped on him at the time.
His career in whole as been a model for all future tight ends to go by. While he was with Kansas City, he was the number one target for many years and still could not be stopped. He has racked up numerous All-Pro level seasons as well as eclipsing the 100 reception mark and 1,000 yard receiving mark in multiple years. In his career, Tony has averaged 76 receptions for 889 yards and 6 touchdowns per season. With these numbers there is no doubt in my mind that Tony is a first ballot hall of fame inductee. They should probably just go ahead and make a bust of him now because it is inevitable that he gets in.
Also something else that I have noticed about Tony G. that I think people should know is that he is an amazing person. During the Fox NFL Sunday show this year, they had a segment during their show that had Tony’s son interviewing him. As I was watching that I realized that Tony instills a set of good morals and a good work ethic into his son. I remember thinking to myself as I was watching it that Tony is the type of Role Model that young kids should look up to. He always strives for the best in himself and he always treats people with respect. That is something that is too few and far between nowadays. Especially in the professional sports arena.
So when Tony does finally leave this game for good, he will be remembered mostly for the level of play that he exhibited on a weekly basis. That level of play will ultimately get him enshrined in to the Hall of Fame. But to me, his personality and work ethic are what stands out the most. We will miss you Tony.