Golden Nuggets: Tony Gonzalez, Cal's Great Dual-Sport Athlete or Cal's Greatest Dual-Sport Athlete?

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

More than 15 years removed from his tremendous Cal career, Tony Gonzalez tries to finish his career with a Super Bowl.

All-everything tight end Tony Gonzalez is making one last push for the Super Bowl before a likely retirement. Faraudo takes us back to Gonzalez's college days. I love this quote from Mooch:

The Golden Bears were preparing to play in the 1996 Aloha Bowl when a couple of linebackers were hurt in a car accident. Gonzalez, the team's junior tight end, had a solution.

"He came up to me and said, 'Coach, let me play both ways,' " recalled then-Cal coach Steve Mariucci. "That's the kind of kid he was. He'd do anything to help the team win. If you had a handful of Tony Gonzalezes, you'd never lose."

Despite being a future NFL Hall-of-Famer, Tony also excelled on the hardwood.

For years, he told reporters and teammates basketball was his favorite sport. When Gonzalez and Villanova star freshman Tim Thomas -- future NFL and NBA first-round draft picks -- dueled in the 1997 NCAA basketball tournament, Gonzalez turned it into a mismatch.

"I remember telling people, 'That guy's not going to be able to do anything against Gonzalez,' " said Shareef Abdur-Rahim, an NBA rookie at the time who played the year before at Cal. "People thought I was crazy, but I said, 'Gonzalez is going to dominate him.'

"I knew because I had faced him every day in practice. He was so much stronger than me, there was nothing I could do."

At 6-foot-5, Gonzalez outmuscled the 6-10 Thomas, outscored him 23-11 and led Cal into the Sweet 16. It was the last chapter of his legendary Cal career.

Even after being drafted, he still thought about pursuing a basketball career.

The grip basketball held didn't go away easily. A year into their NFL careers, Glenn recalled, "He told me he was thinking about trying to pull a Deion Sanders or a Bo Jackson and play two sports."

Said Newberry, "I honestly believe if he'd made up his mind, he could have played in any case."

Tony is one win away from his first appearance in the Super Bowl. He takes on the Fighting Harbaughs Sunday at noon.

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