Sunday, February 16, 2014

Much Ado About Nothing-One Fan's defense of Tony Gonzalez

It all began rather innocuous enough.  ESPN dropped a few little tidbits from a profile that Seth Wickersham had compiled on Tony Gonzalez after following him throughout the 2013 NFL Season.

Okay, this tweet was sent out, and it seemed as if briefly anyone who was remotely a fan or writer around the Atlanta Falcons had collectively lost their minds.  I, like many sports fans, receive notifications from ESPN with updates about my favorite teams.  When it popped up on my iPad, I kind of laugh, thinking, TG is just saying what many of us have known for a while now. Matt Ryan is an excellent quarterback, but he is not elite.  Now, come on ,everybody, including Falcons fans themselves have been saying the same thing all year.  So Tony Gonzalez says it to a reporter, and you guys are already rip down all references to him in Atlanta?  Really?! One blog post was even entitled "Why Gonzalez has become a Locker room Cancer for the Falcons."

I'll be honest with you guys. I let my ESPN the magazine subscription lapse awhile ago, and I barely watch the channel.  The only time I even watch ESPN is when there will be a report on one of my favorite players or teams. Why you say, because they have become so biased toward certain teams-New England Patriots, New York Jets, Peyton Manning, Boston Red Sox, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, and the New York Yankees.  Then, it is their unique knack for blowing up certain players to the point of nausea-Tim Tebow, Matt Leinert, Tony Romo, and Brady Quinn to name a few (notice only one is still a legit QB in the NFL, and the others were well...busts, but I digress). Yes, ESPN has a habit of blowing things completely out of proportion in their attempt to become the sports based version of the E! network. I realize that I am a little late to the party, but I wanted to read the entire article before I wanted to pass judgment on my favorite player.  So, I read the article, and found it very pleasant with gorgeous shots of Gonzalez and his family.  What did I come away with?  Well, I'm going to break it down along the lines of the lunacy that followed.

Matt Ryan is not an elite quarterback
Duh, we all know this, but for argument's sake, here is the quote in it's entirety,
"Now he's questioning everything. "Matt's an excellent quarterback," Gonzalez says. "But he's not elite. He's this close," placing his thumb near his index finger. "He'll get there, but he has some learning to do."

So, what's the problem?  Oh, that's right Matt Ryan is now going into his seventh season, and like the aforementioned Tony Romo, he cannot lead his team through a run in the playoffs. Don't get me wrong, Ryan has great numbers, and he is a really, really good quarterback, but he's not elite. Don't believe me? See Ben Roethlisberger or for that matter Eli Manning.  Both of these men have two, count them, two Super Bowl rings. Neither one is considered elite.  Heck, Eli has one more ring than brother Peyton, and Peyton is considered elite, but Eli, not so much. So why did the Falcons fans get upset? Because TG said it on the way out, and some of them saw it as a slight to Ryan. Nope, guys it's a fact, besides he didn't say it on the way out the door.  He said it, according the article, after the loss to the New England Patriots. So much for that.

Then, there is the 9-2 or 10-0 quote.
Here is the direct quote
"On a double date with Matt and Sarah Ryan, Gonzalez says, "Maybe, if the team is hot in November, 9-2 or something, I could come back for the last two months."

I don't believe this for one red hot minute as a legitimate thing. Here's how I saw this quote- A joke.  Why do you say that?  Well, I was one of the 12 people who watched the Pro Bowl pregame show.  Marshall Faulk asked TG was he finished. He answered yes. Faulk then asked if a team were to call him up midway through the season would he come back. TG answered that he would never say never, but pretty much guaranteed that he wouldn't begin the season with anybody. Why did this anger people.  They see it as being "wishy-washy" and giving too much privilege to one player (hence, the cancer article). Look guys, this doesn't just happen in football. I know, you guys are so desperate to call him Bret Favre, but let's look at the Bret Favre thing for a minute. I was like you guys with ole Bret, but really, wasn't it the media with nothing else to report on to insatiable NFL fans that made Bret news? Tony and Bret both are not unlike many other people who "retire." I know plenty of teachers who retire and are back in the classroom a few months into the next year. Why? Many reasons: boredom, money, I like it.  Why do you care? Yes, they often get privileges that other teachers don't get. So, what? I feel like they've earned it. Get over it. IF you had the same opportunity, and somebody called you up, you would take it, too. By the way, the article ends with Matt Ryan,
"Hats off to you," Ryan says. "Hell of a career. We wish you the best."
As everyone starts to clap, Ryan says, "And if we're 10-0 next year, maybe we'll have you back."

Yeah, I can see how this could be cancerous to a locker room.

Then, there is the "You don't know how to work quote"
This quote came during Gonzalez's last address to the team the night before the last game of the season.  Here's the quote in context
Sure enough, Smith asks him to talk. Gonzalez stands before the team at ease, without notes, as if he's waited all his life for this moment. "I've been through this before," he says. He tells them about how the fear of failure led to his "obsessive-compulsive" routine and how he learned the hard way how thin the line is between wins and losses. "It made me the player that I am," he says. "I wouldn't be standing here if that didn't happen."
He looks his teammates in the eyes. "A lot of you don't know how to work," he says. "Whether you think you know it or not, it wasn't good enough. Look at the season." It's the most devastating statement he's ever delivered. There's no telling how it is going over, but he doesn't care. "Don't waste this losing," he says. "Don't waste this season. You grow the most when you face this type of stuff."
His speech lasts about 10 minutes. At the end, Gonzalez begins to choke up. He doesn't notice, but several teammates are beginning to cry too, including Ryan, from wounded pride, from guilt, from the sight of a future Hall of Famer showing his heart. Gonzalez ends by saying, "Thank you for the opportunity to play with you."
They give him a standing ovation.
Yep, cancerous...he's that drama guy alright...yeah, right.

Then, there are those bitter KC fans.  It's been 5 seasons guys. LET IT, GO! It's been almost two years since the goal dunking incident. LET IT, GO!!!  I love my Chiefs don't get me wrong, but TG had floundered there for 12 years. TWELVE YEARS!!! During those 12 years, the Chiefs had six different quarterbacks, five winning seasons, four different coaches, and zero playoff wins. I don't think he, we, or anyone else saw Tony Gonzalez playing 5 more years, yet he did. Should he have had to play out those five years waiting for this year that may or may not have happened?  No, and none of us would have stayed on a job with such poor performance results. I didn't have a problem with him leaving. Still don't. LET IT, GO!!!  FYI, he can't come back to the Chiefs. The Falcons own his rights for one more year.

Of all the football players that I have had the privilege of watching play over my over 30 years of football fandom, I never thought in a million years that I would have to come to my page to defend Tony Gonzalez. I mean, really, Tony G?  You guys have a problem with Tony Gonzalez?

Nothing in that article made me change my mind about Tony. Those who read the entire thing should realize by now that most of it was really taken out of context. I wish Tony G's career would have ended on a better note. The Falcons season was an atrocity.  He played out the entire season, started every game, and even played on a bum foot that kept him out of most of the final practices at the end of the year-a year where he finished 4th among all tight ends, second among receivers on his own team, and y'all think he phoned it in? He is not, Tiki Barber and should not be treated as such.

At this point, I don't think either the Chiefs or the Falcons deserve his services with these attitudes. So, TG...thank you for all the great things you did for my team that could never seem to get out of it's own way. Thank you for entertaining all the NFL fans with all of your spectacular plays over your 17 seasons. Play out the next five years for team Gonzalez before joining the Hall of Fame team in Canton.  I look forward to seeing you on FOX, NFL Network, or CBS, but not ESPN...stay away from there if at all possible.

Until next time, "Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale."― Peter S. Beagle

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday

Well, ladies and gentleman, it is time for the biggest oxymoron of the year-The Super Bowl!!! An oxymoron, you say, why yes, because it is the game we have waited for all year, but it also marks the official end of the 2013-2014 NFL season.  That's right, at the expiration of the clock tonight, we will not have another meaningful football game until Thursday, September 4, 2014 or a mere 214 days.  Of course, football has become a year round sport, and we will continue to hear about this season until then. Sigh.

Last week was the Pro Bowl. I didn't really see the point of making predictions for an all-star game.  It was, however, one of the more entertaining Pro Bowls.  It was different seeing teammates tagging each other on the field, like Derrick Johnson, who was also crowned Defensive MVP during the game, nail teammate Jamaal Charles.  At first, I was not sure how to go about rooting for a team considering there were 5 Kansas City Chiefs on each team. J-Charles was on team Sanders, and Alex Smith was on team Rice, but we also got a chance to see the great Tony Gonzalez lace up the cleats one final time, and since Gonzalez was on team Rice, so went my loyalties. TG had 3 receptions for 50 yards playing for Team Rice who squeezed out a victory against an astonished Team Sanders. Cool fact-The last reception of Tony Gonzalez's illustrious career was from a Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback.

Let me take a side not here for a moment. A poster on an article commented that the only reason that Tony Gonzalez was in the Pro Bowl was that it was a retirement present.  Really?  If we were going on stats alone, the only category Vernon Davis beat TG in was touchdowns:  TG-8, VD-13.  He had one more touchdown than Jordan Cameron.  He had 10 more receptions, 8 more yards and the same number of touchdowns as Jason Whitten.  Enough to have him ranked 4th in Tight Ends this year according to YahooSports.  So poster, your argument is invalid.

Last night was the NFL Honors.  Congratulations to Kansas City Chiefs player Jamaal Charles (who was robbed for MVP) who was NFL.Com Fantasy Player of the Year.  Peyton Manning, of course, won MVP, Offensive MVP, and FedEx Air Player of the Year. Bah...

Now for the Super Bowl, which from all of the media stories is the Peyton Manning versus Richard Sherman Bowl. Anyone who has read this blog knows that I really don't care for either of these teams.  I've hated the Broncos for 35 of my 39 years.  I mean, I have always been a fan of Peyton Manning, but man, why did he have to choose the Broncos.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks all have great stories, yet I can't stand them.  Ever since that game last year with the Falcons, I've been a little off put by the Seahawks. Russell Wilson by all accounts is a great guy. I know he's a good and will be a great quarterback, but there is something about him that I can't quite put my finger on.  Not a fan. Putting all that aside, isn't this really the match up practically everybody expected.  The best offense versus the best defense in the city with the best night life, East Rutherford, New Jersey.  So after a week of Marshawn Lynch avoiding the media, Peyton Manning explaining Omaha, the prognosticators discussing Pey-Pey's legacy, and Richard Sherman being Richard Sherman, it is time for the inevitable "Put up or shut up." That said, I'm picking the Broncos, even though the very idea of saying that makes me want to throw up.

That's it for my football dishing. Until next season, "Every game I've ever played, regardless if it was pre-season or Super Bowl, meant the same to me, and I laid it all on the line."-Brett Favre