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Tribal Warfare
09-29-2008, 02:30 AM
Chiefs Gonzalez is the glamour tight end (http://www.kansascity.com/sports/story/818282.html)

The guy I felt happiest for was Tony Gonzalez. The 11-month losing streak had beaten down everyone, of course, but it especially wore on ol’ No. 88. He’s 32 years old now. This is his 12th season in the NFL. He has never won a playoff game. And he knows the end is coming. More, he can see the end out there.

Gonzalez dressed quickly in the moments after the Chiefs’ stunning 33-19 upset of Denver on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The victory broke a 12-game losing streak, the longest in team history, and for the first time in a long time, music played in the locker room. Guys hugged and high-fived in every corner. Everybody was smiling. It’s funny — I had almost forgotten what a winning NFL locker room felt like. The place was jumping.

And Gonzalez dressed quickly, which was unlike him. Tony has always been one of those guys who took his time winding down after a football game. I always understood that because, to me, Tony Gonzalez is unlike anyone who has ever played professional football. He is, I believe, the first glamour tight end in NFL history.

Anyone can see the glamour part. He’s obviously a good-looking guy, a friend of Oprah’s, an actor and a model. After one game this year, he started telling me about a book he was reading.

“Barack recommended it,” he said.

“Barack Obama?” I asked.

He looked at me like I had to be crazy. Is there another Barack? Only, he wasn’t saying it to name drop — this is just the life he lives. He’s friends with celebrity chefs, he is involved in all kinds of deals, he gets book recommendations from Barack Obama. You know, Tony Gonzalez fits the classic line about glamour — I believe Alex Karras first said it: I could be wearing a tuxedo, and he could be wearing a T-shirt, and he would look like the guy about to get married.

The glamour seems easy for him. The tight-end part is hard. It’s a rugged position, a hard-hat and lunch-bucket position, a position as far from glamour as Fred Flintstone. I watched Tony for much of Sunday’s game — he came into the game only 50 yards away from passing Shannon Sharpe for most receiving yards for a tight end. And all game long he was getting grabbed and pulled and bumped and choked.

This is pretty standard. This is the life of a tight end. The defender never knows whether the tight end is going to stay in and block or go out in a pattern. So defenders attack the tight end on every play. And for the most part officials let them get away with it because, frankly, they expect tight ends to be tough enough to work out their own problems.

Gonzalez has been more than tough enough. Yes, every so often he may wonder aloud why linebackers are allowed to put him in figure-four leg locks or hug him as if he’s a long-lost relative without getting flagged. Mostly, though, he has enforced his own justice. Over the years, Tony has caught more passes (838) and scored more touchdowns (68) than any other tight end in NFL history.

The whole first half Sunday, the Broncos held him without a catch. Maybe “held” is an appropriate word, though it did not appear that Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard was looking for him much. That’s another thing about being a tight end — quarterbacks sometimes will forget all about you.

If you look through Gonzalez’s career, you will notice games where he made one or two catches and games where he made 10 or 11, and the number seemed to depend solely on the quarterback’s memory.

Think about how many games you have watched through the years where the quarterback for three quarters would not throw the ball Gonzalez’s way at all and then in the fourth, after a sudden inspiration, would throw to him four, five, six times in a row. And he would catch those balls no matter how many people were around him because that’s the cool thing about Gonzalez: He may not look open, but he is open.

Late in the third quarter, with the Chiefs leading by a field goal, Huard finally completed a pass to Gonzalez, a 14-yard pass that got the Chiefs a first down. Eight plays later, early in the fourth quarter, Huard hung up a high pass toward the back of the end zone, and Gonzalez backpedaled and leaped for it, like an outfielder trying to steal a home run. He pulled it down and fell down hard on his shoulder.

It was a touchdown, and everyone went crazy, but Gonzalez stayed on the ground. He was hurt. That’s another thing about Gonzalez — he has been more or less indestructible. He has missed one game this decade. He stayed on the ground, and the crowd chanted “Tony! Tony!” Then he worked his way to his feet and wobbled toward the sideline. Then he did what he has been doing on sidelines for a dozen seasons now. He asked someone to throw him some passes.

Gonzalez had one more heroic play in him — third down and 6 with the Chiefs ahead by a touchdown and about 7 minutes left in the game. Gonzalez caught a pass from Huard and pushed and willed his way 22 yards for a first down. The put the Chiefs in field-goal range, and that field goal more or less put the game away.

The catch also brought Gonzalez to within 2 yards of Sharpe’s record — the last major tight-end record that Gonzalez does not own. I kind of hoped that the Chiefs would make a short throw to Gonzalez then, let him break that record at home. But they didn’t throw another pass for the rest of the game. I understood, of course; when you have lost 12 games in a row, you worry about putting away the win and don’t think about records and honors. Still, now Gonzalez now will break the record in Carolina, which doesn’t seem right.

Anyway, when it ended, I felt happy for Gonzalez. The team finally broke through and won after all those agonizing defeats. More than that, the Chiefs finally played with all the energy and enthusiasm that coach Herm Edwards had been promising from his young team. The defense was all racing all over the field, the offensive linemen were blocking savagely, and Larry Johnson ran as if someone on the Broncos had stolen his wallet.

When the game ended, everyone seemed to want to savor the moment. Chiefs owner Clark Hunt happily walked through the locker room.

“I’m just so happy for the team,” he said.

Players took their time, joyfully signed a few autographs for the kids, talked about how this could be a turning point for the organization. In the moments after an NFL win, anything seems possible.

Gonzalez, though, has been through this scene plenty in his life. He did not want to wait around. He did not want to talk. He had people waiting for him. Lots of people wanted to congratulate Tony, but maybe he did not want to hear congratulations. He dressed quickly, and he slipped away.

Thig Lyfe
09-29-2008, 02:42 AM
Larry Johnson ran as if someone on the Broncos had stolen his wallet.


That couldn't be it. Tatum Bell isn't on the team anymore.

mesmith31
09-29-2008, 09:48 AM
I ain't no glamour tight end.....I'm fierce!

Molitoth
09-29-2008, 10:15 AM
That couldn't be it. Tatum Bell isn't on the team anymore.

ROFL

Thig Lyfe
09-29-2008, 01:33 PM
I ain't no glamour tight end.....I'm fierce!

Yow.

Reerun_KC
09-29-2008, 01:36 PM
That couldn't be it. Tatum Bell isn't on the team anymore.
I thought Morris and Vanover were allowed around arrowhead anymore?

Reerun_KC
09-29-2008, 01:37 PM
I ain't no glamour tight end.....I'm fierce!
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1213/528165182_9657a71623.jpg?v=0

Thig Lyfe
09-29-2008, 07:00 PM
Yay kittens!

Reaper16
09-29-2008, 07:03 PM
That couldn't be it. Tatum Bell isn't on the team anymore.
You won the thread.