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Tony Gonzalez (tight end)

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Tony Gonzalez (tight end)

Tony Gonzalez
2005 Pro Bowl.
No. 88     Atlanta Falcons
Tight end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1976-02-27) February 27, 1976 (age 38)
Place of birth: Torrance, California
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)Weight: 247 lb (112 kg)
Career information
High school: Huntington Beach (CA)
College: California
NFL Draft: 1997 / Round: 1 / Pick: 13
Debuted in 1997 for the Kansas City Chiefs
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 7, 2013

Anthony David "Tony" Gonzalez (born February 27, 1976) is an American football tight end for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of California, Berkeley, and was recognized as an All-American. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft. Gonzalez, a thirteen-time Pro Bowl selection, currently holds the NFL records for touchdown receptions (107) and total reception yards (14,268) by a tight end. Gonzalez is also known for his durability, as he has only missed one game in his sixteen-year career. Since the start of the 2000 season Gonzalez has 1074 receptions and only one fumble, making him one of the most sure handed players of all time.[1]


Early years

Tony Gonzalez was born in Torrance, California,[2] and was raised by his mother, Judy, who worked two jobs to support her sons. According to a Sports Illustrated article Gonzalez comes from a very diverse family; his father being of Portuguese, Jamaican and Scottish descent, and his mother's family being of African American, Caucasian, Mexican and Native American ancestry. Gonzalez attended Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach, California, where he lettered in football, baseball, and basketball.

As a senior, he caught 62 passes for 945 yards and 13 touchdowns and was a first-team All America selection at both tight end and linebacker. Playing basketball, he was named Orange County and Sunset League MVP as he averaged 26 points per game.[3]

After his senior year, Gonzalez shared the Orange County High School Athlete of the Year along with golfer Tiger Woods.[4]

College career

Gonzalez chose to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in communications and played both football and basketball.[3] As a member of the California Golden Bears football team, he played tight end under future NFL coach Steve Mariucci.[3] Gonzalez was also an All-Pac-10 and All-American selection.

Gonzalez also continued his basketball career at Cal. His junior year he played in 28 games, averaging 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game as California made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.[3]

Eventually, Gonzalez had to choose between basketball and football. On the difficulty of the transition between the two, Tony said "you get done playing football and then you transition to basketball [which] had already been going for a month," but ultimately "the decision was pretty much made for me..."[5]

Gonzalez decided to forego his final year of eligibility to declare for the NFL Draft.

  • 1995: 37 catches for 541 yards with 2 TD
  • 1996: 44 catches for 699 yards with 5 TD

Professional career

1997 NFL draft

Gonzalez was ranked as one of the top tight ends in the 1997 NFL Draft and was considered a top 15 selection. The Chiefs traded up from the 18th to the 13th selection with the Houston Oilers to draft Gonzalez.[6]

Kansas City Chiefs

Gonzalez began his career in 1997. He finished his rookie season with 33 receptions, two touchdowns and a blocked punt on special teams, helping the Chiefs to finish with the best record in the American Football Conference (AFC). In the 1998 season, Gonzalez saw dramatic improvements with 59 receptions for 621 yards, and also caught two touchdown passes for the second consecutive year.

In 1999 season saw Gonzalez again improving when he caught 76 passes for 849 yards and a career high 11 touchdown receptions, earning his first Pro Bowl selection. From 2000 to 2006, Gonzalez was the most productive tight end in the NFL. During this time he averaged 79 receptions, 968 yards, and 6.5 touchdowns per season and was elected to the Pro Bowl every year. His best season statistically came in 2004, when he caught an NFL record (for a tight end) 102 passes for 1,258 yards and seven touchdowns. Gonzalez's single-season record of 102 receptions by a tight end stood for 8 years, until it was broken by Jason Witten during the 2012 season.[7]

Starting late in 2006, Gonzalez began to close in on numerous team and league receiving records. In 2006, Gonzalez broke wide receiver Otis Taylor's Chiefs team receiving yards and touchdowns mark, and also passed running back Priest Holmes for the team yards from scrimmage record.

In 2007, Gonzalez continued his productivity in spite of the generally poor play of the Chiefs' offense. Though the Chiefs finished at or near the bottom in most major offensive categories, Gonzalez led the Chiefs and all NFL tight ends in receptions (99) and receiving yards (1,172) while being named to his ninth straight Pro Bowl.

On October 14, 2007, Gonzalez broke the career touchdown reception record for tight ends previously held by Shannon Sharpe,[8] as well as passing Ozzie Newsome for second in career receiving yards for a tight end. On December 23, 2007, Gonzalez recorded his third season with 1,000 receiving yards, tying him with Kellen Winslow, Todd Christensen and Shannon Sharpe for most ever by a tight end, and on December 30, 2007, Gonzalez passed Shannon Sharpe for most receptions all time by a tight end.[9]

In week 4 of the 2008 season, Gonzalez became NFL all time leader in reception yards for a tight end with 10,064, surpassing Shannon Sharpe. He recorded 96 receptions for 1,058 yards and was also elected to his tenth career Pro Bowl despite Kansas City starting 3 different quarterbacks. In October 2008, Gonzalez asked to be traded to a Super Bowl contending team, but then-general manager Carl Peterson stated that no playoff-contending team made a good enough offer.[10]

During the 2008 offseason Tony again approached Chiefs management about a possible trade. Unlike the previous Chiefs management, new Chiefs' GM Scott Pioli told Gonzalez he would see what he could do.

Atlanta Falcons

Gonzalez was traded to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on April 23, 2009.[11] In his first regular season game with Atlanta against the Miami Dolphins, Gonzalez caught a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan and became the 21st player, and the first tight end, in NFL history with 11,000 receiving yards.[12] He finished the game leading the Falcons in receiving with five receptions for 73 yards and one touchdown, his 20-yard touchdown reception marking only the third time he scored in the opening game of the season. Although Gonzalez recorded 83 receptions for 867 yards and 6 touchdowns, his total stats went down from the previous years in Kansas City, and Gonzalez was not invited to the Pro Bowl for the first time in 10 years.

In the 2010 regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gonzalez made his 1,000th career reception, making him the seventh player in NFL history to do so and the first tight end. Gonzalez had his best performance as a Falcon two weeks later against the defending Super Bowl champions New Orleans Saints, as caught eight catches for 110 yards and a touchdown to help lead Atlanta to an overtime victory.[13] His play in 2010 helped him return to the Pro Bowl that year. The Falcons also finished 13-3 that season to earn the first-seed in the playoffs; in Gonzalez first playoff game in five years, the Falcons were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl champions Green Bay Packers.

During the NFL lockout in 2011, Gonzalez contemplated retiring rather than sitting out an entire season and waiting to play in 2012.[14] After the lockout was eventually lifted by the league, Gonzalez was adamant he had at least three seasons left in him and was excited at the prospects of returning to the Falcons who are widely considered to be Super Bowl contenders.[15]

With Gonzalez's contract set to expire following the conclusion of the 2011 season, he signed a 1 year $7 million contract extension with the Falcons on January 1, 2012 indicating his intent to return for at least one season.[16] In the 2012 season opener, Gonzalez played in Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs for the first time in his career which ended with a Falcons' victory.[17] Gonzalez caught his 100th career touchdown on November 11, 2012, in a week 10 game against the New Orleans Saints, becoming the only tight end in NFL history to catch 100 TD passes. On January 13, 2013, Gonzalez won the first playoff game of his career when the Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks 30-28.[18]

Throughout the 2012 season, he insisted on retiring. But on March 12, 2013, on his Twitter page, he said, "I'm happy to say that after speaking with my family, I'm coming back." Then, later that day, he posted,"The lure of being on such a great team and organization, along with unbelievable fan support was too good to pass up."

On March 15, 2013, Gonzalez agreed to re-sign with the Falcons to a two-year, $14 million contract, despite his claim that he would be retiring after the 2012 season.[19]

On Inside The NFL on Showtime, Gonzalez officially announced that this, 2013 opening NFL week, will be his last opening week in the NFL.


Kansas City Chiefs

  • Career receptions (916)
  • Career receiving yards (10,940)
  • Career receiving touchdowns (76)
  • Career yards from scrimmage (10,954)
  • Consecutive games with a reception (130)


  • Career receiving yards for a tight end (14,268 as of December 30, 2012)
  • Career receptions for a tight end (1,242 as of December 30, 2012)
  • Career TD receptions for a tight end (103 as of December 30, 2012)
  • Most seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards by a tight end (4)
  • Most consecutive seasons with 2+ touchdowns (17) - 1997-2013
  • Most consecutive seasons with 2+ touchdown receptions (17) - 1997-2013
  • Most consecutive seasons with 20+ receptions (17) - 1997-2013
  • Most consecutive seasons with 30+ receptions (17) - 1997-2013
  • Most consecutive seasons with 40+ receptions (16) - 1998-2013
  • Most consecutive seasons with 50+ receptions (15) - 1998-2012
  • Most consecutive seasons with 60+ receptions (14) - 1999-2012
  • Most consecutive seasons with 70+ receptions (10) - 2003-2012 - tied with Tim Brown
  • Most seasons with 70+ receptions (13) - 1999-2001, 2003-2012 - tied with Jerry Rice
  • Most consecutive seasons with 500+ yards receiving (16) - 1998-2013
  • Most consecutive seasons with 600+ yards receiving (15) - 1998-2012
  • Most consecutive starts by a tight end (120)
  • Pro Bowl All-Time leader in Receptions (42)
  • Pro Bowl All-Time leader in Touchdowns (6)
  • Second most receptions in a career
  • Second most consecutive games with a reception

Career statistics

Year Team G Rec Yds Avg Lng TD
1997 Kansas City 16 33 368 11.2 30 2
1998 Kansas City 16 59 621 10.5 32 2
1999 Kansas City 15 76 849 11.2 73 11
2000 Kansas City 16 93 1,203 12.9 39 9
2001 Kansas City 16 73 917 12.6 36 6
2002 Kansas City 16 63 773 12.3 42 7
2003 Kansas City 16 71 916 12.9 67 10
2004 Kansas City 16 102 1,258 12.3 32 7
2005 Kansas City 16 78 905 11.6 39 2
2006 Kansas City 16 73 900 12.3 57 5
2007 Kansas City 16 99 1,172 11.8 31 5
2008 Kansas City 16 96 1,058 11.0 35 10
2009 Atlanta 16 83 867 10.4 27 6
2010 Atlanta 16 70 656 9.4 34 6
2011 Atlanta 16 80 875 10.9 30 7
2012 Atlanta 16 93 930 10.0 25 8
Total 255 1,242 14,268 11.5 73 103

Personal life

In early 2007, Gonzalez suffered a bout of facial paralysis known as Bell's Palsy. Gonzalez subsequently experimented with a vegan diet after reading The China Study, by Cornell professor and nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell, but he and his nutritionist, Mitzi Dulan, ultimately decided that eating meat occasionally would be best for his performance.[20] Gonzalez only eats organic fruits and vegetables, free-range chicken, grass fed beef (no more than 18 ounces a month), and fish.[21] Tony is very active with the Kidney Foundation because his best friend is recovering from kidney disease.

Gonzalez had a commitment ceremony in July 2007 with his girlfriend, October, and is married. Gonzalez has 3 children, a daughter and a son, Malia and River, with his wife[22] and a son, Nikko, from a previous relationship with entertainment reporter Lauren Sánchez.

On July 3, 2008, while dining with his family at Capone's Restaurant in Huntington Beach, California, Gonzalez noticed fellow diner Ken Hunter choking on a piece of meat at a nearby table, unable to breathe. Gonzalez successfully administered the Heimlich Maneuver to Hunter, saving his life. After the incident, it was revealed that Hunter was a fan of the San Diego Chargers, who are a rival team of the Chiefs in the AFC West.[23]

He campaigned for Barack Obama in the 2008 Election, saying "this is the first time in my life that I've ever been political about anything."[24]

Other Endeavors

Along with playing in the NFL, Tony Gonzalez has been involved in a number of business ventures. While playing for the Chiefs, he co-founded Extreme Clean 88,[25] a commercial cleaning service in Kansas City. While in Kansas City, Tony Gonzalez also contributed to Shadow Buddies,[26] a charity that works with hospitalized children.

In 2009, Gonzalez co-authored the book, The All-Pro Diet. The book, co-written with Mitzi Dulan, the former nutritionist for the Chiefs, details his diet and workout routine and provides practical suggestions for others to follow the same path.

Later in 2009, Gonzalez co-founded a sports nutrition company that manufactures a complete line of protein shakes, vitamins and other supplements. The products in the APS line follow a similar philosophy to the one set forth in Gonzalez's book, focusing on a balance of foods from all-natural sources.

Television appearances


External links

  • The Official Tony Gonzalez Website
  • The Tony Gonzalez Foundation
  • Atlanta Falcons bio
  • Tony Gonzalez is on a mission to spread his all-natural lifestyle
  • Twitter

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