As expected, Cal alumnus Tony Gonzales is a 1st ballot NFL Hall of Famer when the 2019 Class of Inductee to the Canton, Ohio was announced during the Saturday night (Super Bowl LIII eve) NFL Honors ceremony.
Tony Gonzalez is the all-time leader in catches (1,325) and receiving yards (15,127) among tight ends, and 2nd only to Jerry Rice in catches amongst all players in the history of the NFL. Gonzalez played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1997 to 2008 and the Atlanta Falcons from 2009 to 2013. While he has never won a Super Bowl in his pro career, Tony Gonzalez has been on the roster of many fantasy football championships over the year for being the premier offensive tight end. The Cal alum has made 14 Pro Bowls and revolutionized the tight end position. He also missed just 2 games in his 17 year NFL career with a consecutive streak of having at least one catch in 211 straight game (yet another NFL record for a tight end...and No.2 among all players behind Jerry Rice and tied by Larry Fitzgerald). He will be featured prominently in CBS’s Super Bowl LIII coverage on Sunday.
Gonzalez played both football and basketball during his time at Cal (3 seasons each during 1994-1997). Under head coach Steve Mariucci, Gonzalez emerged as the premier tight end in his junior season when he had 44 receptions for 699 yards with 5 touchdowns to earn All Pac-10 and All-American honors in 1996. While his basketball stats are more pedestrian (6.4 points per game and 4.34 rebounds per game), Gonzalez was a member of the 1997 team that went to the Sweet Sixteen in head coach Ben Braun’s first season.
Considered one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history and one of the best to every play the position at Cal, Gonzalez was a two-sport letterman for the Golden Bears who starred in both football and basketball. He was named a first-team All-American by Football News and Sporting News, as well as All-Pac-10, in his final season on the gridiron as a junior in 1996. That season, he had 44 receptions for 699 yards and five touchdowns, helping Cal to the Aloha Bowl where he equaled a school bowl record with nine receptions. Gonzalez completed his career with 89 catches for 1,302 yards and eight scores. He enjoyed 16 starts and played in 82 games for the Cal basketball team, contributing 6.4 ppg and 4.3 rpg. As a junior, he helped Cal to the Sweet 16 of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, which included a 23-point effort in a win over Villanova in the second round. The 13th overall pick of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, Gonzalez played 17 seasons and in 270 games in the NFL for the Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, recording 1,325 catches for 15,127 yards and 111 touchdown receptions before announcing his retirement following the 2013 season. His receptions are the second most in NFL history, while the receiving yards are fifth and touchdown catches sixth, with all three the most ever in the NFL by a tight end. He was a 10-time All-Pro, a 14-time Pro Bowl choice and a member of the NFL’s 2000’s All-Decade Team.
In the 1997 draft, the Kansas City Chiefs traded up to the 13th overall pick to select Tony Gonzalez and profited from his decade long productivity.
Older Cal fans, please share your favorite Tony Gonzalez at Cal memories in the comment section below.
Congratulations to the Cal legend! GO BEARS!