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Discussing Tony Gonzalez's great career

The CGB team discusses our memories of the greatest tight end in all of ever.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The greatest tight end of all time has officially retired. The CGB team got together to discuss the career of the Cal legend.

Nick Kranz: Can you imagine a world in which Tony Gonzalez isn't playing football? He started at Cal when I was 9, and now, 19 years later, he's finally hanging it up. He's been playing football for nearly as long as I've had conscious memory! His career achievements are too numerous to list, but suffice to say that he is the greatest tight end in NFL history.

I honestly can't say that I have a ton of memories from his time at Cal because I was so young, but I remember being distinctly impressed that he was so successful at two sports, and I remember being impatient about his return to the basketball court. My preteen brain didn't understand why he couldn't leave football practice early to play in basketball games.

With his departure, I wonder if we're saying goodbye to the greatest pro football player that Cal has ever produced.

TwistNHook: Yes, this is just like the classic Beatles song, Imagine:

Imagine there's no Tony Gonzalez
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no Tony Gonzalez
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no Tony Gonzalez
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Nick Kranz: I look forward to not including that e-mail when I put the post together!


Avinash Kunnath: Now we're definitely keeping it in.

atomsareenough: It made me laugh, but it kinda makes Tony Gonzalez seem pretty awful.

TwistNHook: If it made atoms laugh, WE'RE KEEPING IT IN!

Nam Le: We have to rewrite the song to include more football related lyrics!!!!

Ruey Yen: So the song substitution basically means that

Tony Gonzalez = heaven, okay
Tony Gonzalez = countries, because he played for many year in KC, he's a little country?
Tony Gonzalez = possessions, Tony Gonzalez's usage is in line with possession football

Leland Wong: Tony G at Cal was waaaaaay before my time. Sadly, I've never been able to see him in the blue and gold or witness his skills on the court. However, there's no denying the impact he had in revolutionizing the role of the tight end. I always support the Bears in the Pros, so it's a shame that dastardly Harbaugh led to his defeat in last year's playoffs and Tony G, the greatest tight end to put on a pair of pads, will never play in the Super Bowl.

Berkelium97: Tony Gonzalez is the kind of guy who can do no wrong. Consider his game against the 49ers in the 2000 season. After sustaining a late hit out of bounds, Tony collided with a photographer and knocked the poor guy unconscious. He wanted to help the photographer up, but the Chiefs were huddling up and the photographer was out cold. Tony later recalled seeing the photographer taken away in an ambulance. Tony probably felt pretty sorry about the whole incident...until he heard that he saved the photographer's life.

Upon receiving a brain scan, the photographer Mickey Pfleger learned he had a cancerous brain tumor.

Tony says it was the strangest thing that ever happened to him in a football game.

"I hear after the game he'll be OK. I was happy about that. But three or four days later, they said: 'Hey, you know what happened to that guy? They did a brain scan and found a tumor in his brain, and they would have never found this tumor if you didn't hit him. It was a miracle it turned out this way."

"It's just strange how the universe works and makes things happen like that," Gonzalez said. "I believe in a higher power. Some people out there don't. But I definitely think something was at work there -- a late hit and then running into this guy and being able to find that tumor in him? That's something that stands out as the strangest thing that ever happened to me in football.

"It's a great story."

Vlad Belo: Berkelium 97's story is great enough. But the amazing thing is it's not the only story of Tony Gonzalez changing someone's life in a life-saving manner. In 2008, Tony G leapt to a man's rescue in a restaurant, saving the man from choking to death by performing the Heimlich maneuver. It didn't matter that Tony G hadn't received any formal training in performing the Heimlich. He just did it. In life, Tony G just seems to be the right guy being in the right place at the right time.

As far as athletic memories go, I have quite a few of Tony G. He entered Cal after I graduated, but I was a young alum who never missed a home football game during Tony G's Cal career and I was a frequent attendee at Cal basketball games. Since there haven't been very many since I became a Cal fan, it's easy to say he is the greatest two-sport athlete I have ever seen play for the Golden Bears. He was a great football player and a great basketball player during his time at Cal.

Two of my greatest memories of Tony G from his Cal days actually involve basketball. In November of 1996, Tony completed his football season in the Big Game, which was on its traditional Saturday-before-Thanksgiving date. After that, Tony G hopped on a plane and joined the basketball team at the Maui Invitational and was an instrumental player in helping Cal win two games on the island (including an opening game upset of a nationally ranked Iowa team). No basketball practice? No problem. And then after that game, he rejoined the football team for bowl practices and got another trip to Hawaii, playing in the Aloha Bowl. He was Pat Barnes' most frequent target in that Aloha Bowl, grabbing nine receptions in the game.

My other enduring memory of Tony G came just a few months later in the NCAA basketball tournament. In the first round game, Cal (the # 5 seed in the East region) was trying to avoid the dreaded 5/12 upset. Tony G stepped up in the second half of that game, rallying Cal from a halftime deficit. He also scored all of Cal's points in the last minute of the game, including a go-ahead fadeaway jumper that gave Cal the lead with inside of a minute to go. Cal held on for the victory and ultimately made it to the Sweet 16 (sadly, Cal's last trip to the Sweet 16 to date).

Tony G was and always will be one of my favorite players who ever donned a Cal uniform in any sport (in his case, two sports!). And I can't wait until he joins Les Richter to become the second Golden Bear enshrinee in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Leon Powe: Tony Gonzalez - I only got to see two seasons of Tony Gonzalez as a football player and basketball player (1994/1995 and 1995/1996) and by his final junior year I missed the best parts of Tony Gonzalez's career as I lived in rural China where there was no internet and sports scores came a month late (since my dad would cut out newspapers and mail them to me).

The first year, he didn't exactly set the world on fire, amassing only 8 catches with a touchdown while Cal. His sophomore year he was good, but nothing really indicated that he'd become the best tight end of all time. As a basketball player, he worked off the bench, backing up Al Grigsby and Monty Buckley (and sometimes even Michael Yogi Stewart) for all three front court positions. He had great hands and was obviously very strong. My friends and I sometimes used his name as a synonym for something huge. As in "that burrito from La Burrita is Tony Gonzalez" Nothing in the 4-7 and subsequent 3-8 football seasons told us we were watching basically the best tight end of all time.

Sorry, this probably isn't what you're looking for, but my main memory of Tony G was that we were playing Alabama with Antonio McDyess (basketball) down at the Oakland Coliseum. Tony got fouled with no time left in a tie game and he missed both free throws and we lost that game in overtime.

Vlad Belo: I was at that Alabama game at the Coliseum. Thanks for that memory I could have done without. ;-)

As for Tony G's sophomore year, I'll disagree slightly with LeonPowe. I think toward the end of the season, Tony G started to be a more prominent target of QB Pat Barnes, kind of a precursor to 1996 and the new Mariucci offense. I think we started to see just how good he could be.

Tony G had a great performance in the 1995 Big Game at Stanf*rd, marred by a fumble that Stanf*rd recovered to seal the game. I still believe to this day that Tony G was down and twas not a fumble.

Scott Chong: As a weird quirk, my soph roommate at Cal actually went to high school with Tony Gonzalez. I actually don't have any compelling memories of Tony as a football player. Nothing that stands out in my mind like highlights from Rodgers, Marshawn, Best, Jackson, or Vereen. What I do remember is the transition from the gridiron to the hardcourt each year. He would start dribbling a basketball everywhere he went even if it was all the way from Memorial to Harmon. On the court, my dad and I had a running bet to see how long it would take him to pick up two fouls and sit. During the first couple of games, he could do this in 1-2 minutes. No joke. There was nothing deliberate or malicious about it. He'd decide to go somewhere on the court and would sort of run people over on his way. It was pretty funny to guys bounce off of him. By about midway through conference play, he'd reacclimate to bball and would start getting productive. I remember him putting up 30+ near the end of one year (might have been against North Carolina in the Sweet 16) and wondering how good he might have been if he had focused on bball full time.


Cal faithful, what are some of your favorite memories of Tony Gonzalez, either Cal football or basketball, the Chiefs, or the Falcons? If you watched him play in college, did you know he was destined for success?