Cal Bears in the NFL: Tony Gonzalez & Nnamdi Asomugha end exemplary careers

Kevin C. Cox

We review the Golden Bears who didn't make the playoffs. They were their usual rocking selves.

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons: Most catches by a tight end. Most touchdowns by a tight end. Most consecutive starts by a tight end. Most receiving yards by a tight end (the only one to hit 15,000). One fumble in the last 13 seasons. 13 Pro Bowls and 10 All-Pro appearances. Second most catches in NFL history. AS A TIGHT END.

Is he the best to never win the ring? It probably has to be between him and Dan Marino, doesn't it?

Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders: It's kind of weird to say, but Asomugha should never have left Oakland. The end of his career with Philadelphia really seemed to tarnish what had otherwise been an incredible career. Otherwise, it's been smooth sailing for Asomugha. He was pretty much the only good thing about Oakland for years. He was the Sportsman of the Year in 2008. He is one of the most generous athletes out there. He seems to be headed for a career in broadcasting or performing down the road.

It's great to know that when players like Asomugha and Gonzalez retire, they will be producing in a meaningful way that goes beyond football.

Lorenzo Alexander, Arizona Cardinals: Alexander inked a three-year, $9.5 million deal with $3 million guaranteed in the offseason, but was placed on IR early in the season after a significant ligament injury.

Tyson Alualu, Jacksonville Jaguars: Alualu has had to get settled in his new spot as a defensive end, but seems to be settling in after a bumpy start.

Bryan Anger, Jacksonville Jaguars: Anger remains a top ten punter in net yards punting and somewhere in the middle when it comes to average punting.

Desmond Bishop, Green Bay Packers: Bishop hit another injury snag. He tore his ACL this season and didn't play very much before the injury.

Chris Conte, Chicago Bears: Oh boy, this is going to be a rough offseason for Conte. He blew the coverage that would eliminate the Bears from the playoffs. Despite a season that saw him notch 89 tackles, seven pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions, Conte will have that gloomy memory of being bested by a fellow Golden Bear.

Thomas DeCoud, Atlanta Falcons: If Conte's offseason could be tough to bear, DeCoud's might not be feeling too good this year. He went from being a Pro Bowl safety to being identified (BY NAME) as a weak point in this team's defense. Yikes. Both Conte and DeCoud might be looking at new homes next season.

Justin Forsett, Jacksonville Jaguars: Another Bear finds the dreaded injury reserve list. Forsett had a quiet season in Jacksonville and was limited by nagging pains in various spots.

Mike Gibson, Arizona Cardinals: Gibson played in 16 games this season but didn't start any of them, spending most of his time as a reserve.

Matt Giordano, St. Louis Rams: Other than one incredible pick-six, Matt Giordano had a quiet 2013 with only 14 tackles on the year.

L.P. LaDouceur (Dallas Cowboys) & Nick Sundberg (Washington Redskins): They long snap. They're pretty good at it.

Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns: Another Pro Bowl for one of the best centers in the NFL. Too bad he was given no running backs to block for or quarterbacks to protect. Mack is a free agent and will be coveted by plenty of teams this offseason. He'll be a gamechanger to whoever signs him.

Mike Mohamed, Houston Texans: Mohamed saw spot action this season with Houston, managing three tackles in eight games played. They are the first three tackles of his NFL career!

Jeremy Ross, Detroit Lions: Man, was I thrilled to see Jeremy get another chance in the NFL and make the most of it in Detroit. He looked great for most of the season as a returner and could carve up a mini-Devin Hester role with a team that covets his talents.

Brian Schwenke, Tennessee Titans: All that experience at the position last year really paid off. Schwenke played nine games and started nine games. Who would have thought Cal would have three starting centers in the NFL?

Mitchell Schwartz, Cleveland Browns: Who better for Mack to rub off his work ethic on another very strong offensive lineman? Schwartz has started every game of his first two seasons, just like Mack has started five straight seasons. Combine the two together, and you get 112 straight starts.

Craig Stevens, Tennessee Titans: Man did Stevens nosedive in production this season. Two catches in 15 games, compared to 23 catches the previous season.

Will Ta'ufo'ou, Jacksonville Jaguars: One carry for one yard this season. WHAT A YARD.

Here's to a more successful 2014 for all these guys. Tomorrow we look at the players to watch come playoff time.


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