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Count Alex's Wins
09-09-2007, 11:21 PM
http://www.kansascity.com/180/story/268411.html

Posnanski: Life-changing offseason makes Gonzalez a new man

HOUSTON | Well, if there’s one thing you can count on after a fiasco like this, it is seeing Tony Gonzalez sitting on a metal chair and staring hard into his locker. Gonzalez has struck that pained pose after just about all of the 70 losses he has suffered as starting tight end for the Chiefs. After the worst losses, he might sit there for an hour.

And this, the 71st, was a sickening loss. The Chiefs went into Houston on Sunday and got beat every way a team can get beat. On offense, they dropped passes, committed horrendous penalties, missed blocks and turned the ball over. On defense, they gave up the big play, flopped on third down and allowed a fourth-quarter drive that lasted longer than two of Janet Jackson’s marriages. On special teams, they missed a chippie field goal and fumbled a punt return. Coach Herm Edwards probably had his wallet stolen, too. Even the “Hard Knocks” cameras would have turned away from this stinker.

So, you knew that after this humiliation, Gonzalez would be on his chair for a long time after the game ended, still wearing his uniform and pads, glaring straight ahead, seething with anger, overcome with frustration, speechless …

Only he wasn’t.

“Body language is so important,” Gonzalez said as he dressed. “You can’t have your head down. It’s a long season. This is just one game.”

•••

Twice this offseason, Tony Gonzalez thought he might die. One near-death experience changes a person. Imagine two. The first time, in May, Gonzalez felt a sharp pain in the back of his head; it felt as if he had been conked in the head with the butt of a gun. He could not close his eye. He could not feel half his tongue. He felt sure that he’d had a stroke.

When he got to the hospital, the doctors first thought Gonzalez’s instincts were right — he’d had a stroke or perhaps even a brain aneurysm. They put him on a gurney and rolled him in for a brain scan.

“I felt like crying, man,” Gonzalez says. “I thought football was all over for me. And I was worried about a lot more than football.”

After the scan, though, the doctors determined he had Bell’s Palsy, a usually temporary condition that paralyzes facial muscles. For three weeks, Gonzalez lived with the paralysis. He could not practice football because his eye would not close. He slept with tape holding down his eye. He ate all his food on the one side of his mouth where he could still taste. He proposed to October, his wife, with his face drooping.

“I told her that I was proposing with all my heart and half my face,” Gonzalez says. “The hardest part was that I couldn’t laugh. I couldn’t smile. That’s hard for me. I like to have a good time. I like to live life.

“The doctors said that in some cases, it doesn’t go away, and I knew that if it didn’t go away, that I would never play football. But I’m a positive person, and I just knew I would recover. Gradually, it went away.”

After two weeks or so, he began feeling a tingling sensation — his face was waking up. After three weeks, he felt normal again. And that led to the second scare. He took a routine blood test to make sure he had fully recovered — this was just as the Chiefs were beginning their offseason practices — and the Chiefs’ trainer, David Price, called him into the office and ordered him to go to the hospital immediately for another blood test.

“What is it?” Gonzalez asked.

“It’s bad,” Price said.

Gonzalez rushed to the hospital again, and this time the doctors would not even tell him what was wrong. They just kept saying that it was very bad. They said something about white-cell count. Gonzalez was so scared, he started crying.

“I’m not ashamed to admit it,” he says. “I started thinking about my son, my career, I was about to get married, and nobody would even tell me what was happening. They all just kept saying, ‘It’s not good, but we want to be sure before we say anything.’ ”

It turned out to be a mistaken identity, a blood mixup like you might see on soap operas. Gonzalez’s blood had somehow been switched with someone else who was very sick. When Gonzalez was told that he was OK, he felt that extraordinary rush of relief, and then he knew all of this drama and emotion had happened for a reason.

“Did it change me?” he asks. “You better believe it changed me.”

•••

Tony Gonzalez talks about how much he still believes in this Chiefs team. In years past, he knows, a dreadful loss like this would have sent him spiraling. He may have questioned the will of some of his teammates. He may have questioned the decisions of some of the coaches. He definitely would have let the loss crush him.

“I’ve tried hard to work on that,” he says. “Of course I still want to win. Of course losing still bothers me. I’m hurting right now. But I think I’m older now. I’m more mature. I’ve experienced some things. And I know we’re not going to turn things around here by getting caught up in one loss.

“We played poorly today. Very poorly. That’s obvious. We dropped passes — I dropped a pass. I’m not used to doing that. We made all sorts of mistakes. But they’re correctible. That’s the good thing. We’re not going to turn this around by screaming, ‘The sky is falling.’ We’re a good football team. We made the playoffs last year. And we’re a better team than we were last year. I know that.”

Someone mentions to Gonzalez that many Chiefs fans will be in full meltdown mode by the time the team gets back to town, and he nods.

“They should be,” he says. “We’ve got to play better than that. There’s no excuse losing to the Houston Texans 20-3. And I’m not downplaying them — they played well. We didn’t. There’s no excuse. But that game’s over now. There’s a whole season to play. I’ve lost opening games before and made the playoffs. Last year, we started 0-2 and made the playoffs. This is a good football team, and everybody in here needs to believe that.”

It is definitely a different song for Tony Gonzalez. Sunday’s loss, after a winless preseason, does not promise a bright future. The Chiefs’ offense looks entirely lost, and the defense does not look as if it can be dominant enough to overcome that. But Gonzalez is right — that’s stuff for the fans and us media folks to freak out about. The worst thing that can happen to the Chiefs now is for the players to lose faith, pack it in, wonder, “What’s the use?”

“I’m going to be in the weight room tomorrow,” he says. “And I know a bunch of these other guys will be there, too. That’s the one thing I really learned this crazy offseason. You have to be thankful for tomorrow. And you have to take advantage of it.”

He smiles his full smile.

“Of course,” he says, “if we play like this in week five, I cannot say that I’ll be as positive about it.”

'Hamas' Jenkins
09-09-2007, 11:24 PM
Bell's palsy and either a leukemia or AIDS scare.

Wow.

Count Alex's Wins
09-09-2007, 11:24 PM
Man, we lost Joe Delaney, we lost Derrick Thomas. How horrible would it have been if we had lost Tony Gonzalez?

dirk digler
09-09-2007, 11:29 PM
Nice piece by JoPo.

It is strange in this day and age of instant media that we are just finding out about what happened to him.

What a scary thing to go through and I am glad he is ok...

el borracho
09-09-2007, 11:30 PM
I'm glad Tony will be a Chief his entire career. I kind of feel sorry for him (no shot at a championship) but I am selfishly glad. No matter how much we suck we can still be proud of Tony.

Count Alex's Wins
09-09-2007, 11:31 PM
I'm glad Tony will be a Chief his entire career. I kind of feel sorry for him (no shot at a championship) but I am selfishly glad. No matter how much we suck we can still be proud of Tony.

If we waste Larry's career I'm going to cry.

dirk digler
09-09-2007, 11:32 PM
If we waste Larry's career I'm going to cry.

You should cry more for them wasting Will Shield's career

L.A. Chieffan
09-09-2007, 11:34 PM
Man, we lost Joe Delaney, we lost Derrick Thomas. How horrible would it have been if we had lost Tony Gonzalez?
What did the Chiefs do to piss off God?

el borracho
09-09-2007, 11:37 PM
If we waste Larry's career I'm going to cry.
http://espn.go.com/media/nfl/2006/0109/photo/a_edwards_195.jpg

Bowser
09-09-2007, 11:39 PM
LMAO

Deberg_1990
09-09-2007, 11:39 PM
Carl Peterson has wasted alot of careers...

tk13
09-09-2007, 11:39 PM
I'm amazed we went all the way through Hard Knocks without hearing any of this.

Buehler445
09-10-2007, 01:12 AM
That SUCKS. I feel for the guy. I bet the dude at the hospital that screwed up the sample feels like a toolbox. That stuff happens though. My dad's blood test got mixed up with someones who had really high cholesterol. Dad suggested they get another test because nothing had changed in his life from the test 3 months before. But they insisted on getting him on cholesterol medicine immediately. A month later his cholesterol was way too low, so wouldn't you know they pulled him off of it. I can't believe they don't take better care of this stuff. Especially with TG. Dad's hospital is a little suspect, but if I were in TG's position, I would expect some medical care.

ClevelandBronco
09-10-2007, 01:18 AM
If we waste Larry's career I'm going to cry.

What do you think they're doing now?

Here's a handkerchief.

DaneMcCloud
09-10-2007, 01:28 AM
You should cry more for them wasting Will Shield's career

No, he should be crying because he's a 24 year-old virgin.

ChiefaRoo
09-10-2007, 01:33 AM
No, he should be crying because he's a 24 year-old virgin.

McTranny, 'sup Hollywood? Did you go to the VMA's?

DaneMcCloud
09-10-2007, 01:52 AM
McTranny, 'sup Hollywood? Did you go to the VMA's?

Nope, no VMA action this year. The wife was gonna go but something came up. We've been in the past to the VMA's and the VH-1 Rock Honors and I have to say, the VH-1's are much more fun. More mature artists and a more mature crowd.

I'm fairly immature but hanging out with UCLA and USC kids is stretching it for me these days. Especially when they really don't care about the music, they just wanna be on TV.

What's up in Witchy Woman town tonight? When are you heading to our "fair" city next?

ChiefaRoo
09-10-2007, 02:14 AM
Nope, no VMA action this year. The wife was gonna go but something came up. We've been in the past to the VMA's and the VH-1 Rock Honors and I have to say, the VH-1's are much more fun. More mature artists and a more mature crowd.

I'm fairly immature but hanging out with UCLA and USC kids is stretching it for me these days. Especially when they really don't care about the music, they just wanna be on TV.

What's up in Witchy Woman town tonight? When are you heading to our "fair" city next?

Umm, I'm looking out the window and I think everyone is tucked into bed except me. :) :)

I was just curious if you saw Britney's performance.

I'm coming to Vegas in Dec.

DaneMcCloud
09-10-2007, 02:18 AM
Umm, I'm looking out the window and I think everyone is tucked into bed except me. :) :)

I was just curious if you saw Britney's performance.

I'm coming to Vegas in Dec.

Oh, four hours away. If I can, I'll try to get a flight in but it might be rough. I've got more construction going on my home and a few other things going on.

If you're there for a tourney, I hope you kick ass and take names! Drop me a line either way and good luck!

the Talking Can
09-10-2007, 07:33 AM
http://espn.go.com/media/nfl/2006/0109/photo/a_edwards_195.jpg

ROFL


i don't know why