During an interview with ESPN The Magazine (which apparently still exists), former Chiefs and Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez hinted at the possibility that he could come back and play at some point next season. Gonzalez said that he’d be “open” to a return later in the season for a potential Super Bowl contender.
Gonzo was set to retire following the 2012 season, but was convinced into coming back for one more shot at a title with the Falcons last year. That obviously didn’t pan out, as the Falcons finished just 4-12, tied with the Bucs in the cellar of the NFC South.
Despite having been in the NFL since 1997, there’s no real sign that Gonzalez is slowing down. He’ll turn 38 later in February, but last season he caught 83 passes for 859 yards and eight TDs for the awful Falcons. He’s also been remarkably durable, as he’s missed a grand total of two games in 17 seasons. Pretty unreal.
He’s been vocal in the past about his lack of desire to participate in training camp, and he didn’t have to attend last season as part of his agreement with Atlanta to return to the team. So, by saying he’d want to return later in the season next year, obviously he’s still not interested in preseason work. Which is fine. Why subject yourself to further injury? If you’re in shape, you’re in shape.
Gonzalez has accomplished pretty much all you can accomplish as a pro football player, though he’s still without a Super Bowl championship.
He also said in an interview with ESPN Thursday that Matt Ryan is an “excellent” quarterback, but “not elite”. The debate seems to rage every year regarding which quarterbacks are “elite”, and Ryan has been on the fringe of that discussion in recent years. While I wouldn’t classify Tony’s comment as a “shot” at Ryan, it is interesting. I don’t think Matt Ryan is elite either, and the Falcons may have jumped the gun in giving him $100 million dollars like a year ago. I mean, look at him. He has the same scared, deer-in-headlights eyes that San Antonio Spurs super-spare Aron Baynes does. I don’t want that look leading my team.
Is Gonzalez burning a potential bridge back to Atlanta? Doubtful, but Atlanta sure didn’t look like a contender last season, so it may not matter. Is he trying to latch-on to a contender as a way of getting a ring without doing all the work? Of course. But nothing wrong with that, right?