In the current issue of ESPN the Magazine, which hits newsstands Friday, you’ll find a piece about Tony Gonzalez written by Seth Wickersham. The senior writer spent much of last season with the future first-ballot Hall of Famer and was granted, essentially, an all-access pass.
Access makes for better stories, but not always for the subject.
Gonzalez now finds himself needing to clarify or explain various things – such as the perception that he demanded a trade midseason.
“I never asked for a trade, and I said that during the season – and I never would,” Gonzalez said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I would never do that because the Falcons organization – (and) my teammates – have been so good to me. It was a dream come true just being a part of that organization. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve had a blast out there.
“But when I did talk to them and I heard that that were teams interested,” Gonzalez continued, “I said, ‘If that’s something you guys are considering, then I’m open to it.’ But I’m not going to come up here and demand anything or ask anything. But if there is something on the table, then yes, of course I’d be willing to listen to it because that’s just rational. Put yourself in my position.”
Gonzalez, 37, returned this year with one goal: to win a Super Bowl. With the trade deadline approaching in late October, the Falcons were 2-5.
“It’d be something I would at least listen to,” Gonzalez said of a possible trade. “Why not?”
The article, however, implies that Gonzalez was upset that he wasn’t traded.
“I don’t know if the word upset (is right),” Gonzalez said. “It was frustration because at that point in the season, our season was slipping away. It was pretty much over. It was my last chance.
“At that point, you understood (that) unless a miracle happened, (we weren’t getting) to the playoffs.”
The Seahawks, who won the Super Bowl, were reportedly one of the teams that wanted Gonzalez.
“It could’ve been me, but at the same time, I’m happy for them,” Gonzalez said. “It didn’t work out that way. I was like everybody else in America. I was having a beer, watching the game at a bar in New York. I was enjoying the game. I know a lot of people didn’t enjoy that game, but you got to love Seattle, and I’m happy for them – the way they finished off the season in dominating fashion like that. I had a blast watching the game. It wasn’t any type of frustration on my part wishing that could have been me. I don’t work that way, I don’t think that way.”
And then there’s the quote about Matt Ryan. Gonzalez said that Ryan is “not elite” but that he’s “close.”
“I’ve said this throughout the season,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when – and I said that from the first time I saw him throw a football. He is an unbelievable talent. He has unbelievable skill. And the thing that really separates him is his work ethic, and I mention that in the article. There was no stopping him. There was no stopping him. Matt is going to be an elite quarterback in this league. I said he is an inch away from that right now.
“The elite quarterbacks are Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees – those guys. Now, the second class is going to be Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton. Is that a knock? He’s the best quarterback that I’ve played with by far. By far. He is a great quarterback, and he’s going to be an elite quarterback.
“For anybody to ever say anything different is embarrassing on their part.”