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With a 6-5 frame and athletic build, Tony Gonzalez was destined to do more than just dominate the football field during his collegiate years.
Gonzalez chose to attend the University of California, where he was recruited to play both basketball and football.
During his freshman year in 1994, Gonzalez found more success on the hardwood, averaging 7.1 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Golden Bears. His contributions for the football team were of a much lesser degree, catching eight total passes and one touchdown over 11 games at tight end.
Gonzalez’s sophomore season is where he started to break out on the football field, becoming a true dual-sport threat. He caught 37 passes for the Golden Bears in 1995, averaging a whopping 14.6 yards per reception.
Then came the California native’s junior season, where success followed him with every step he took. Gonzalez became the Golden Bears key offensive threat in 1996, as the tight end caught 44 balls for 699 yards and five touchdowns. His 15.9 yard per catch ranked second on the team.
Following the conclusion of what would be his final year playing football at Cal, Gonzalez helped lead the Golden Bears basketball team to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. As a contributor on both sides of the court, Gonzalez was the team’s fifth leading scorer (6.8 ppg) and fourth best rebounder (4.5 rpg).
Nearing the end of his college career, Gonzalez was left with a decision between chasing football or basketball professionally, but the choice was made rather easily. While he had a successful run on the hardwood, his future was tied to the gridiron.
After three successful years at Cal, Gonzalez chose to forego his senior season and enter the 1997 NFL Draft.
Gonzalez was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 13th overall pick. The Chiefs traded up five spots to make sure that they got their man.
Gonzalez is the fourth member of the 1997 NFL Draft class to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame — Orlando Pace (1st overall pick) was inducted in 2016, Walter Jones (sixth pick) received his Gold Jacket in 2014 and Jason Taylor (73rd pick) was enshrined in 2017.
Other prominent members of the 1997 NFL Draft class include Tiki Barber, Corey Dillon, Marcellus Wiley, Ronde Barber and Mike Vrabel.
Tony Gonzalez’s historic 17-year career has left him as the most prolific tight end in NFL history. Whether you’re a Golden Bears, Chiefs, Falcons or just general football fan, you won’t want to miss one of the greatest pass catchers of all-time receive his Gold Jacket. Be at Enshrinement Week 2019 Powered by Johnson Controls with an Official Ticket Package from HOF Experiences. Click below to see all available packages.
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