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In honor of his impending enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, we’re breaking down the five career-defining moments that earned Tony Gonzalez his Gold Jacket.
When: October 14, 2007
All it took was a three-yard pass for Tony Gonzalez to write his name into the record books.
In a matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals during the 2007 NFL season, Gonzalez caught a three-yard touchdown toss from Damon Huard to set an NFL record with 63 career receiving touchdowns — the most ever for a tight end.
Gonzalez finished his career with 111 total receiving touchdowns, which currently ranks eight all-time. His touchdown record stood for a decade before Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates corralled his 112th career receiving touchdown on September 17, 2017.
When: December 30, 2007
Just two months after breaking the tight end touchdown record, Gonzalez had more history to rewrite.
In the third quarter of a Week 17 clash with the New York Jets, Gonzalez caught the 816th pass of his career — breaking the record for career receptions for a tight end.
Gonzalez surpassed Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe with the reception and only seemed to heat up from this moment.
When he hung up his cleats after a 17-year career, Gonzalez amassed 1,325 catches, which ranks second all-time behind Jerry Rice (1,549).
When: April 23, 2009
After 12 prolific seasons in Kansas City, Gonzalez was looking for a change of scenery. At 33 years old, Gonzalez wasn’t fulfilled with the lack of playoff experiences he had with the Chiefs and made the team aware that he’d like to play for a contender.
Then on April 23, 2009, Gonzalez was granted his wish. The tight end was traded to the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Gonzalez joined the Falcons as the only tight end in NFL history to be selected to 10 Pro Bowls and was likely already on his way to Canton.
What came after the trade was another chapter of Gonzalez’s historic career, as the tight end added another four Pro Bowl selections to his resume and one more First-Team All-Pro honor (2012-13).
When: January 13, 2013
Gonzalez’s career in Atlanta was defined by a desire for playoff success. While the tight end never achieved the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl ring, he did hit a major career milestone in his second season in Atlanta.
When the Falcons met the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, Gonzalez entered the game with a personal 0-5 record in the postseason spanning his 15 years in the league.
He was on the precipice of his first playoff victory when the Falcons lead 27-7 in the fourth quarter, but this monkey wasn’t going to get off his back easily. Seattle charged back, taking the 28-27 lead after Marshawn Lynch bullied himself into the endzone with 31 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing drive, the Falcons found themselves at the 50-yard line with 19 seconds left. Then, on the next play, Matt Ryan hit Gonzalez with a 19-yard strike to put Atlanta into field goal range. Kicker Matt Bryant sank the kick to put the Falcons up and earn Gonzalez the evasive playoff victory.
When: December 15, 2013
In his final season in the NFL, Gonzalez had one last piece of history to make.
In a Week 15 matchup with the Washington Redskins, Gonzalez became the fifth player in NFL history to surpass 15,000 career receiving yards.
Gonzalez accomplished the feat on a simple 12-yard reception, but the play will forever be remembered as one that topped off an immaculate, almost two-decade long career.
On August 3, Tony Gonzalez will officially be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Be there to celebrate the most accomplished tight end in NFL history with an Official Ticket Package from Hall of Fame Experiences. Select between single and multi-day packages, featuring exclusive parties and autograph sessions, for the ultimate experience at 2019 Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls.
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