Tony Gonzalez Atlanta Falcons & Kansas City Chiefs
“That's what football has always taught me. On the football field, you're going to be afraid. Adversity is going to come towards you. You can't run from it.”
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Tony Gonzalez out of the University of California in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft. He retired 17 seasons later as the all-time leader in catches, yards and touchdowns by a tight end.
While Gonzalez made an immediate impact as a rookie, his breakout season came during his third year when he led the Chiefs in receiving with 76 catches for 849 yards and 11 touchdown receptions to earn his first of 14 Pro Bowl nods. That same season, he was named first-team All-Pro for the first of seven times. He followed that season with an even better year in 2000 when he caught 93 passes for 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns.
Other than his rookie year, Gonzalez never caught less than 59 passes in a season during his career and surpassed 80 catches eight times. He led the NFL in receptions in 2004 with a career-high 102 catches and reached 1,000 yards for the second time in his career.
Gonzalez was traded to the Atlanta Falcons in 2009. It was with the Falcons, in 2012, that Gonzalez reached his lone conference championship game. Unfortunately, even though Gonzalez caught eight passes for 78 yards and a touchdown, the Falcons fell to the San Francisco 49ers 28-24.
Gonzalez’s final career numbers are staggering. They read 1,325 receptions for 15,127 yards and 111 TDs. Gonzalez eclipsed 900-yards receiving in a season nine times and had 10 or more TDs in a season three times.
He played in 270 regular season games and missed just one game during his career. At the time of his retirement, Gonzalez ranked second in career receptions (1,325), most seasons with 50 or more receptions (16) and most consecutive games with a reception (211). He also ranked fifth all-time in receiving yards (15,127).
Gonzalez led the Chiefs in receiving eight times and the Falcons once. He is a member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s.