Be honest, you were holding out some hope that Tony Gonzalez would decide he wanted to finish his career in Kansas City and would put off retirement for a second time. Not so, the future Hall of Fame tight end says, thus ending an amazing career and the hopes of dreams of countless Chiefs fans.
After the Atlanta Falcons finished their season with a 21-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Gonzalez met with a huge group of reporters.
“It’s humbling. I’m just so lucky to be surrounded by such good people, the teammates that I’ve had,” Gonzalez said. “Guys like Tony Richardson, Jason Dunn, Trent Green, the list goes on and on. The coaches. Coach Vermeil, Coach Schottenheimer.”
“I look back and I say to myself, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’”
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt released a statement Monday to recognize the amazing run Gonzalez had in the NFL.
“On behalf of the entire Chiefs family, I want to congratulate Tony on an incredible career,” Hunt said. “What he was able to accomplish during his time in the NFL is truly remarkable, and I have no doubt that Tony is a first-ballot hall of famer. We were very blessed to have him in a Chiefs uniform for 12 seasons and his contributions on and off the field were extraordinary and will never be forgotten. I want to thank Tony for his time in Kansas City and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. He will always be considered a part of the Chiefs family.”
Head coach Andy Reid — always a fan of tight ends in his offense — also wanted to pay tribute to Gonzalez.
“I’d like to take just one minute to shout out to Tony Gonzalez, who is one of the all-time great Chiefs and he’s decided to hang up the cleats, although he probably could continue to play, the guy is unbelievable that way,” Reid told reporters. “It’s a tribute to him as a man, for how he handled himself as a person and obviously all the records that he set from that position; he is one of the all-time greats and I’m sure a future hall of famer. I’m proud to have known him, and still know him, and I’m hoping he enjoys retirement and does as well there as he did on the football field, which I’m sure he will with that Cal education.”
Even the often-questionable judgement of HOF voters aren’t going to be able to deny Gonzalez from entering Canton on his first try. The only tight end in NFL history to put up four 1,000 yard seasons and owner of both the Chiefs rookie of the year and MVP team awards is the perfect candidate to get in on the first ballot.