Tony Gonzalez didn’t walk into retirement quietly. And maybe he’s not done just yet after all.
The Atlanta Falcons' tight end had plenty to say while shadowed by ESPN the Magazine senior writer Seth Wickersham throughout the 2013 season. The masterful piece will appear on newsstands on Friday, and on the Web next week.
Here are some excerpts:
Regarding QB Matt Ryan, a close friend: "Matt's an excellent quarterback. But he's not elite. He's this close," says Gonzalez, placing his thumb near his index finger. "He'll get there, but he has some learning to do."
With the Oct. 29 trade deadline approaching, the Falcons were 2-5. Gonzalez met with coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff. He was careful not to ask for a trade, but he made it clear that he would accept one. Gonzalez told Seth later: "You trade me to a team that needs me, that wants to make a serious run in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. You get something in return for a guy who you know won't be here next year. And the season isn't going anywhere anyway. That's rational." At the trade deadline, Gonzalez sat at a restaurant with his wife and waited to hear which team it would be. When that call never came, he was not happy.
Despite all the drama and disappointment this season, Gonzalez consistently confessed that he isn't so sure about retirement: At dinner with Ryan one night, Gonzalez said, "Maybe, if the team is hot in November, 9-2 or something, I could come back for the last two months."