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Tony Gonzalez joining CBS NFL broadcast; Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe out

Tony GonzalezIt would appear that Tony Gonzalez is committed to retiring from football this time around, as CBS announced on Tuesday that he will join the network’s NFL broadcast during the 2014 season. Gonzalez will contribute to Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” in addition to working with “The NFL Today.”

Gonzalez’s arrival signals a major shake-up for CBS, as Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe will be leaving the network. Gonzalez will work alongside James Brown, Bill Cowher and Boomer Esiason.

“While we welcome Tony, we want to acknowledge Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe who have contributed greatly to the success of THE NFL TODAY for more than a decade,” CBS Chariman Sean McManus said in a statement. “Dan and Shannon are true Hall of Famers on the field and in front of the camera. As they pursue other professional opportunities, we thank them for their hard work and dedication and wish them nothing but the best.”

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, CBS made the decision to drop Marino and Sharpe and they did not choose to leave.

We have every reason to expect that Gonzalez, who has always been regarded as one of the classiest players in the NFL, will transition seamlessly from player to analyst. He has offered some controversial takes on the NFL’s new head shot rules, which apparently did not scare the folks at CBS away.

You mean to tell me this exchange is one of the last things we will remember from the Marino-Sharpe era at CBS? That’s a shame.

Tony Gonzalez to be presented with half-Chiefs, half-Falcons helmet

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Tony Gonzalez will play in the last game of his Hall of Fame caliber NFL career on Sunday. This time, his retirement is for real.

Gonzalez flirted with retirement last year, but he ultimately decided to join the Atlanta Falcons in hopes of winning a Super Bowl. Although the 37-year-old was unable to achieve that goal, there is no debating he is one of the greatest tight ends to ever touch a football. On Sunday, the Falcons will honor Gonzalez with a Falcons/Chiefs combination helmet.

Gonzalez was still plenty effective this season, hauling in 79 passes for 803 yards and eight touchdowns. He has missed just three games in is entire 17-year career. However, Gonzalez said in a recent interview that he has committed to hanging up the cleats for good and has no regrets. Gonzo paved the way for pass-catching tight ends to become such a major part of the NFL offense. He’s a lock for Canton.

Photo via Twitter/Atlanta Falcons

Tony Gonzalez would rather be hit in the head than the knee

Dustin-Keller-knee-injuryThe NFL has done a fairly effective job of cutting back on head shots and helmet-to-helmet contact over the past several seasons, but at what price? With decreased risk of concussions comes increased risk of knee injuries, and Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez is not happy about that.

Last week, Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller had his season end when Houston Texans safety DJ Swearinger tackled him by diving at his knee. Keller suffered a torn ACL, MCL, PCL and a dislocated knee on the play. Gonzalez hated it.

“I’d rather have a guy hit me head than knife at my knee,” he said, via USA Today’s Jim Corbett. “You’re talking about a career-ending injury. It’s going to be so hard for Dustin to come back off of that. It should be a fineable offense, just like going for the head is.”

Players have already accused the NFL of turning them into robots with all of the new rules and regulations, so making a low tackle a fineable offense is likely out of the question. The league has worked to eliminate head shots because they affect a player’s quality of life after football. From Gonzalez’s perspective, a major knee injury is just as devastating.

“It should be a fineable offense,” Gonzo said. “That’s just not part of football — hitting a defenseless player in his knee, that’s something we all dread as players. That’s my nightmare. Hit me in my head (instead).”

Gonzalez is not the first player to address the fact that less head injuries could lead to more knee injuries. As Ed Reed once said, football will have to disappear before the NFL can put a stop to concussions. Knee injuries cost players money and can ruin their careers, but they won’t affect their cognitive abilities. That trade-off is apparently enough for the NFL to stick to its guns.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Tony Gonzalez reportedly will return to Falcons for more money, less training camp

Tony GonzalezThe ageless tight end wonder may be back for another season.

Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports reported Sunday that Tony Gonzalez is expected to return to the Atlanta Falcons next season if the team can accommodate two of his wishes.

According to Silver, Gonzalez, who turned 37 last month, is looking to be paid $7 million next season, and he would like to miss some or all of training camp. Gonzalez earned $4.9 million last year and is a free agent.

“If we offer him the money, he’ll most likely be back for one more. He’ll most likely be looking to miss training camp, though,” a team source told Silver.

USA Today’s Jim Corbett later reported that Gonzalez is expected to inform the team that he will return next season.

Gonzalez talked throughout last season about retiring. He said he was 95-97 percent certain to retire, but we noted that he seemed to hedge on that plan following the Falcons’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Gonzalez only said that he would “probably” retire, which allowed for the possibility that he could return.

Gonzalez returning for another season makes plenty of sense for both sides. Despite being 36, Gonzalez had his best season since joining the Falcons. He caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns, all of which were season-highs for him since joining the team. He also won a playoff game for the first time in his career and came one win away from reaching the Super Bowl.

Gonzalez played spectacularly during the playoffs and is still a top tight end in the league. He keeps himself in great shape, so there really is no reason he shouldn’t come back to give it another shot.

Tony Gonzalez hedges on planned retirement

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Tony Gonzalez has been saying that he is highly likely to retire after the season, but the 36-year-old tight end is still allowing for the possibility that he could return next season.

The Atlanta Falcons blew a 17-0 lead and lost 28-24 to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Gonzalez caught all 8 passes thrown his way for 78 yards and a touchdown. Anyone watching him could see that he is playing at an extremely high level.

In recent weeks, Gonzalez has said he is 95 to 97 percent certain to retire. Gonzalez remained consistent in saying that he is likely to retire, though he did not say those plans were definitive.

“It’s probably the last time I’m going to wear that uniform,” Gonzalez said, via the Falcons’ website. “I didn’t want to take it off, to tell you the truth. All good things come to an end and, like I said all season long, this is probably my last one. What an unbelievable ride.”

Gonzalez said “probably” because he is allowing himself the option to change his mind.

Denise White, who is the CEO of EAG Sports Management and has worked with Gonzalez for over a decade, said she felt he would be back.

Gonzalez indicated he would be OK with going out after the loss.

“I’ve been very blessed I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me,” Gonzalez said at his locker, according to NFL.com. “I’ve had a great ride, an unbelievable ride. … I have no regrets. Not one. And If there’s anyone out there, media or anyone, even think about saying that I’m going to have regrets, I’m telling you right now, that’s not the case, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Gonzalez turns 37 next month and just completed his 16th season in the NFL. He was third among tight ends in receiving yards (930), second in receptions (93), and fourth in touchdown catches (8). He still has plenty to offer the Falcons and, after finally winning a playoff game for the first time in his career, he may want to return.

Photo credit: Twitter/Bart Hubbuch

The Falcons Are Going to Have a Scary-Good Offense This Season

When the Saints acquired Jeremy Shockey last offseason I didn’t like the move. Many people felt it was a great addition to their team and that it would give Drew Brees another weapon. Instead, I saw a guy who was coming off a broken leg and nowhere near worth the second and fifth-round picks they gave up for him. Furthermore, I felt that Brees already had tons of receiving weapons and that the TE really wasn’t part of their offense. I was right on pretty much every account. Oh yeah, and the Saints would kill to have that second-rounder back on Saturday, believe me. Anyway, I bring this up because the Chiefs and Falcons had a very similar swap — a second-round pick for a Pro Bowl tight end. The difference is Tony Gonzalez is the fine wine of tight ends, improving with age. He’s not coming off a major injury, and he’s a billion times more reliable than Shockey (in every positive respect possible). Simply put, he’s the perfect addition to the Falcons’ offense.

The Falcons already had something special brewing last season — a rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan, playing with excellent poise and forming a good combo with emerging wide receiver, Roddy White. The line did a great job of run-blocking and made Michael Turner an MVP candidate. Now add a reliable and veteran tight end like Tony Gonzalez to the mix, a guy who works hard and just wants to win? It’s over. While Atlanta could use some serious defensive help (a LB or two, a DT would be nice), there’s no doubt in my mind that their offense will be scary-good next year. If I’m playing fantasy football I’m loading up on my Falcons.

Going back to Gonzo, if Buffalo had made the deal for him at the deadline last year (Tony killed the trade, ostensibly because he didn’t feel Buffalo was a real contender), they would have just been wasting a draft pick on a guy that wouldn’t have put them over the top. With Atlanta, this might very well make their offense good enough to win the NFC. Perfect trade by the Falcons. As for KC, that second might as well be a third given how well the Falcons will finish next season. I wonder how pissed Matt Cassel is right about now. So much for that 8-8 turnaround-season I was predicting.

Chiefs Should Try to Trade Tony Gonzalez

One of the rumors that’s been flying the last few days is that Tony Gonzalez has requested a trade from Kansas City, and that one of his potential destinations is the New York Giants. Even though I usually want players to honor their contracts and stick with their teams, I understand Gonzalez’s plight, and actually feel the team should try to trade him. First of all, as good as Tony Gonzalez is — one of the best receiving tight ends ever — having him still can’t mask the fact that Kansas City’s quarterback options are Brodie Croyle, Damon Huard, and Tyler Thigpen. He’s doing his best to help this team win, but they just need too many more pieces to become successful in the immediate future.

The bottom line is that the Chiefs are rebuilding and a long way away from contention. Taking the Jared Allen off-season trade as a sign you are rebuilding, why not deal Gonzalez for a 4th round pick or something just to get another selection? How can it hurt you if you’re the Chiefs? Shockey warranted a second and fifth round pick before the season, Gonzo’s got to be worth a 4th or 5th I would figure. Plus, Tony’s already set the record for most receiving yards by a tight end, and he did it all with the Chiefs. What more can he do for the organization? No doubt Tony would like to go to a contender and have a chance of winning a game or two down the stretch. I say they should do it — it will help both parties. Maybe a move to NYC could give Tony an opportunity to meet a new female fan base, too.