View Full Version : Out Route: A Profile of Tony Gonzolez's Final Year

02-12-2014, 11:28 AM
:clap: Excellent read...

Out Route -- by Seth Wickersham for ESPN The Magazine (http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/10414822/out-route)

His story was supposed to read something like this: TONY GONZALEZ unretires, leads Atlanta to a Super Bowl and rides off with a ring. Instead, a final season spent with the best tight end ever tells a much different tale.

The difference between good players and elite ones is that the latter possess an almost unhealthy drive to be great -- the exact obsession, as it were, that enlightens and torments Gonzalez. It moved him to jot down three goals:

1) A ring
2) Start pouring myself out
3) Surrender your fear
The other two goals are different, intertwined, a byproduct of the dueling forces within him: a passion to share his wisdom and a dread of being ignored or coming off like a jerk. Football has always been a process of self-exploration for Gonzalez. He was moved yesterday when Smith said, "Elites show their scars and will teach the young guys." He wonders whether his teammates know that he dropped 17 passes in his second year. Afraid of being a bust, he read books about successful people and learned that the common theme binding them was having a routine, based on perfect technique and relentless drive.

Gonzalez's routine has been refined over the years and is legendary in both the Chiefs' and Falcons' buildings for its unyielding neuroticism and unparalleled results. That is a big reason nobody cared that he missed the beginning of camp and why some of the new players were in awe of him when he eventually reported. His routine begins every morning at exactly 7:23. He eats the same breakfast of oatmeal and a protein shake. Before every practice and every game, he runs in a 5-by-5-yard square, to perfect breaking out of routes. Then he catches 500 passes a week out of these breaks, asking them to be thrown inaccurately to best replicate a game. "It becomes a trained reflex," Gonzalez says. "That way, you never have to think."

He learned much of his routine from Jerry Rice, who early in his career worried he'd be a bust too. Now they are the two top pass catchers in NFL history. To Gonzalez, it's simple: The difference between very good and future Hall of Famer is knowing how to work. He wants to invite younger players to join his routine in the hope that they develop their own. But to do that, it requires him to surrender his biggest fear -- "a fear of leading," he says.

It dates from his rookie year. In a close game, Gonzalez stood in the huddle and said, "We're going to go down the field and score." Will Shields, the Chiefs guard, stared at him and said, "Man, don't look at me like you know me."

That seemingly innocuous exchange triggered something deep in Gonzalez, the insecurity forged from being a tall, lanky kid in a single-parent home who was beaten up daily by two bullies. In front of a microphone, Gonzalez can be as chatty as any athlete, confident and secure. But he withdraws easily from his peers. As a result, he has never addressed a team, chastised teammates or demanded of them what he demands of himself. Now he wants to not only retire with no regrets but to grow.

Gonzalez closes his notebook and glances at the cover, where he's scribbled his mantra for the season: "The past is history. The future's a mystery. Life's in the present."

02-18-2014, 11:46 AM
...and right into the booth he goes. http://boards.buffalobills.com/images/smilies/meanie.gif

John Ourand ‏@Ourand_SBJ
CBS's McManus: CBS has pursued Tony Gonzalez for an NFL studio role "for years." SBD's story:

Tony Gonzalez is in; Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe are out as part of a CBS NFL studio shakeup. Full story will be in SportsBusiness Daily.