Team for the Ages: Tony Gonzalez was elite among all pass catchers

Former Chief, Falcon played at Hall of Fame level for 17 years

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Tony Gonzalez

Over the past three months, thousands of fans voted in our "Team For the Ages" contest to construct the best imaginable 50-man roster from the NFL’s modern era, which began in 1967. The votes have been counted, and we’re unveiling one player each weekday between now and the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season.

Chiefs, Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez

Legacy one-liner

The career stats put up by Tony Gonzalez aren’t just the best of any tight end in NFL history; they’re among the best of any pass catcher. His 1,325 receptions are second all-time only to WR Jerry Rice. His 15,127 receiving yards are sixth among all players, and his 111 touchdowns are seventh. In 17 consistently brilliant seasons, Gonzalez was voted to 14 Pro Bowls, tied for first among all players with Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews and Merlin Olsen.

They said it

“Tony Gonzalez is the greatest tight end in the history of the National Football League and one of the greatest Chiefs of all time. In his 12 seasons in Kansas City, he revolutionized his position, and his record-breaking performances and commitment to the Kansas City community made him one of the most beloved players in the Chiefs Kingdom.”

– Chiefs owner Clark Hunt

Key stat

At a position that is annually among the most susceptible to injury, Gonzalez missed just two of 272 games. Following his rookie season in 1997, he started 254 of 256 games, including the last 112 in a row. He exceeded 1,000 yards four times and had five additional seasons with 900 or more yards.

Did you know?

When Gonzalez retired after 17 seasons, he was still at the top of his game. As a 37-year-old with the Falcons in 2013, Gonzalez was targeted 121 times and caught 83 passes for 859 yards (10.3-yard average) and eight touchdowns.

In his junior year at Cal, Gonzalez averaged 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds for a Sweet Sixteen basketball team. He played on the Miami Heat’s summer league team in 2002 after the Chiefs franchise tagged him during a contract dispute and had 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.

Signature game

On Sept. 29, 2013, against the Patriots, at the age of 37, Gonzalez had 12 receptions for a career-high 149 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Pro Football Weekly