Transitions are a part of life. Just ask Tony Gonzalez. Be it graduations, marriage or divorce, a new job or even retiring. That is where Gonzalez finds himself. Retiring from the NFL after 17 years. When it comes to walking away from a chosen profession it can bring about much doubt. Like for example, “what is next?” Just like anyone else there is sadness that goes along with that. There can be an exhilaration as well. Gonzalez has left the NFL and is getting set for a brand new playing field.
It was just two months ago that Gonzalez walked out of a football arena and on February 18, he seamlessly walked into a broadcasting career. Tony Gonzalez, the greatest tight end in the history of the game, is set to make his debut on CBS Football next season. His natural charm and rugged good looks seem to make him a natural for the position of analyst. Other networks made offers, but CBS won out. Gonzalez’s addition comes amid the exits of hall-of-famers, Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe. Although CBS is not tying the Gonzalez hiring to the parting of ways with Marino and Sharpe, it seems obvious that CBS wanted a fresh look. That’s exactly what they’ll get with Gonzalez having just retired from the gridiron. He will give fans a fresher perspective.
Gonzalez is no different from the average American when it comes to getting older. People find themselves slowing down. The things that were done before can no longer be done. It’s life. Gonzalez had been the primer tight end in the NFL for most of his 17-year career, holding almost every major record for a tight end. Perhaps it may not even be fair to compare him to other tight ends. To put it in perspective, he is only 228 catches behind arguably the greatest wide receiver of all time, Jerry Rice. Think about that. a tight end is number two, all time. Not Randy Moss, or Chris Carter but Tony Gonzalez. That speaks to his greatness. Gonzalez understands his legacy and appreciates his accomplishments, but he is ready and set to take on the new playing field of CBS sports.
Playing a full 16 game season is a challenge for much younger men then the soon to be 38-year-old Gonzalez. Surprisingly enough it was not the physical grind that wore him down but the mental and emotional portion of the game. Gonzalez said, “I’m really tired of living and dying with the game. Every game. I’ve tried to turn it off. I’m still trying. I can’t. It sucks. Believe me, it sucks.”
What’s interesting is that thousands of hard-working people in America feel that same way about their jobs as they near retirement age. It just so happens that millions of people watched Gonzalez every week during football season for the past 17 years. Sure, Gonzalez had more adulation as he did his job. But at its core this retirement process is no different from any other person. And just like those people facing retirement, he has to ask himself how he’ll feel when it really hits home that he is done.
“I’m not naïve, and I’ve spoken to enough players who have retired, that I know I’m going to miss it. It’s going to be like a part of me is dying, honestly.”
Those are true and heartfelt words that a person is allowed when they excel in their careers. When hard work is put in added with lots of sacrifice, a person gets to look back over things one last time before moving on into the future. When his new job finally starts along with the rest of his life, Gonzalez will hold those feelings in common with other retirees.
Hut, hut, hike! Gonzalez takes off from the line, running a precise route, prepared and set for his new playing field.
Editorial by Tony Bowers