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T-post Tom
08-18-2010, 10:25 PM
Gonzalez chases a ring in Atlanta

The Atlanta Falcons are listed as a 25-to-1 Super Bowl favorite at bodog.com.

The odds of Tony Gonzalez retiring in 2011 are much greater.

The most prolific tight end in NFL history admitted as much Monday during an exclusive interview with FOXSports.com. Gonzalez said there is roughly a “50-50” chance he will step away once his 14th season ends.

“It’s not a secret. People have known it. It’s the reason I got out of Kansas City (last offseason) and the reason I’m here. I don’t want to just go to the playoffs. I want to win the whole thing. I think we’ve got a good chance here.”

Gonzalez, whose contract runs through 2011, is expected to play an even bigger role in that quest than last season, when he caught 83 passes for 867 yards and six touchdowns. While those numbers ranked second on the Falcons behind wide receiver Roddy White, Gonzalez finished 2009 with career-lows in receiving average (10.4 yards) and longest catch (27 yards).

He was asked to play a larger role as a run-blocker and used more on shorter routes than in Kansas City, where Gonzalez compiled most of the statistics that leave him just one catch short of becoming the first NFL tight end with 1,000 career receptions.

Gonzalez admits the transition to offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey’s system wasn’t easy. Gonzalez also had to learn different terminology and build chemistry with Matt Ryan in that quarterback’s second NFL season.

“I’m sure it was frustrating for (Mularkey) at times. It was frustrating for me at times,” said Gonzalez, whose team fell short of the playoffs at 9-7. “All of a sudden, I have to base-block this defensive end. It’s tough, but it’s something that’s expected of me and I have to go out and do it.”

Adapting to life in a new city also provided challenges. Gonzalez could very well have stayed in Kansas City but he didn’t want to become part of another rebuilding project for a team coming off a 2-14 campaign. His trade request was granted when the Chiefs dealt him to Atlanta for a second-round draft pick.

“I have a whole new perspective now and respect for guys who have switched from team to team,” Gonzalez said. “It’s such a hard thing to do, especially with me. I was there for 12 years in Kansas City. You’re so comfortable with your surroundings and the relationships you’ve established. To go to a whole new city … There was stuff I never even thought about.

“Nobody knows you. You don’t know anybody. The front office wanted you, but there are guys on the team who had no idea I was going to be here. I had no idea I was coming here. All of a sudden, you’re like the new kid in school. You’re trying to introduce yourself and let them know how you are as a person in a short amount of time. And you know you’re going to be a key part of the team, too.

“It was definitely uncomfortable at times. Bringing the kids to a new city, finding a place to live, learning the freeway system, finding your restaurants. It was a good change, though. It was something that was needed. It gave me a fresh start. I had to prove myself again. It gave me some newfound energy getting out of that old routine.”

Entering year two in Atlanta, both Gonzalez and Mularkey have adjusted to the other. To improve his blocking, the 6-foot-5, 243-pound Gonzalez bulked up in the weight room this offseason by resuming more of what he calls “caveman lifts” (i.e., squats and bench press). Mularkey, too, has tweaked his scheme to feature Gonzalez on more routes that will get him into open space.

“We’ve changed a couple of things in our run game to fit his strengths,” Mularkey said. “Really, it’s based on personnel. Every year it’s based on who we have, what they do best and trying to get the best out of him.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is Gonzalez’s locker room leadership. With the
“It is year to year,” Gonzalez said after a Monday practice at the Falcons’ headquarters. “I could play another three or four years. I know I could ... There’s a lot of different factors. Yeah, I’d probably come back but you never know. I’m going to wait.”

The 34-year-old Gonzalez then laughed.

“If you ask me now, I’d tell you I don’t know if I’m going to play this year because I’m in (training) camp,” he said. “Football is a grind. That’s why (NFL) careers only last three years. It’s tough on your body. It’s tough on you mentally. I’m just fortunate to be playing this long.”

Gonzalez’s outlook could hinge on something that has eluded both him and the franchise he now plays for: a Super Bowl victory.

“That’s the only thing driving me right now,” said Gonzalez, who hasn’t even won a playoff game since entering the league in 1997 with the Chiefs. “It’s not numbers. It’s not milestones. It’s not money. It’s not glory. It’s not going out trying to be famous and all that stuff. It’s one thing.

Falcons being heavily touted as a legitimate contender to the defending Super Bowl champion and NFC South rival Saints, Gonzalez knows firsthand what can happen if a team starts believing the hype without taking the steps to justify it. That happened when the 1998 Chiefs were coming off a 13-3 campaign following his rookie season.

“We had everybody came back,” Gonzalez said. “We were loaded. Everybody was like, ‘You’re going to the Super Bowl! You’re going to win it!’ We went 7-9.

“I’m not even thinking about the first game of the season yet. I’m thinking about New England coming in here (for Tuesday’s joint practice and Thursday’s preseason game). How good can we be today? That’s the attitude we need to take day in and day out because it will add up. You’ll be able to look back one day.”

Gonzalez isn’t at that nostalgia stage yet about his career, but he has already taken steps to prepare for life after football. Gonzalez is heavily involved in running his own nutritional supplement company (All-Pro Science) formed with partner Paul Edalat. Gonzalez said his products, combined with proper eating, are a main reason he continues to perform at such a high level.

“There was no way I’d be sitting here talking to you about coming back next year if I didn’t change my diet and whole nutrition regiment,” said Gonzalez, who provides health tips and updates on his company web site (www.allproscience.com) and Twitter account (www.twitter.com/tonygonzalez88). “It’s given me the fountain of youth.”

The only thing left for Gonzalez to accomplish in football is drinking in postseason success.

“I think it’s a huge motivation for him to continue to show up and work like he does,” Ryan said. “He wants to be successful from the team aspect of it. It’s hard to believe he’s never won a playoff game because he played for some good Kansas City teams. But it just goes to show you how difficult it is and how many components you need to be successful in this league. I think he’s at the right place now.”


08-19-2010, 01:53 AM
Tony Gonzalez aint winning no SB in Atlanta.

08-19-2010, 02:52 AM
ill eat my hat if Atlanta gets to the superbowl, let alone win it..

08-19-2010, 06:16 AM
Tony Gonzalez aint winning no SB in Atlanta.

Probably, but at least its a much less ridiculous prospect than saying he'd win one in KC...

08-19-2010, 07:20 AM
Probably, but at least its a much less ridiculous prospect than saying he'd win one in KC...

The truth is very ugly sometimes!LMAO

08-19-2010, 09:40 AM
Tony Gonzalez aint winning no SB in Atlanta.
Maybe so, but neither he nor anyone else is retiring an SB champ in KC anytime soon:LOL:

08-19-2010, 09:40 AM
Probably, but at least its a much less ridiculous prospect than saying he'd win one in KC...

Lonewolf Ed
08-19-2010, 10:09 AM
Atlanta makes the playoffs every other year so they should be in them this season. Is losing another playoff game going to be worse for Tony than not making the post season?

08-19-2010, 10:26 AM
Next time some one plays the sandy vag self righteous karma card
show them this article
and a picture of Jeremy Shockey with two Super Bowl rings

08-19-2010, 01:15 PM
Probably, but at least its a much less ridiculous prospect than saying he'd win one in KC...

Doesnt matter where you play, or what you do if the end result is the same.

He will play, put up great numbers, and watch the superbowl from his couch.