Tony Gonzalez isn’t just the best tight end to ever play football. The truth is, it’s not even close. The 13-time Pro Bowler holds virtually every NFL record for tight ends, including most receiving yards, most receptions and most touchdown receptions. As he prepares for one final season with the Falcons, we caught up with the future Hall of Famer to talk smoothies, kettlebells and the Super Bowl. Oh, and Tim Tebow’s prospects at a new position, of course.
“It’s a little insulting when people say
a quarterback or an offensive lineman
just needs to go play tight end. Like that’s the shitty position on the field.”
MADE MAN: So you’re coming back for one more season. Nice! Was it a hard decision?
TONY GONZALEZ: Yes! Extremely hard. Because I was dead-set on retiring. I wanted to retire this year so I could spend a lot more time with my oldest son, Nikko, who doesn’t live with me. He lives out in LA. But after this past season he told me, “I want you to go back.” He was like, “You’re so close, Dad, you gotta go back at least one more year.” So that was the tipping point for me.
MM: Is this definitely your last year?
TG: Yes. Without a doubt.
MM: And then on to the NBA, right?
TG: Yep. Ha ha. I’m going to go help the Lakers out.
MM: Most guys play five years in the NFL, if that. This’ll be your 17th season. What’s the key to your longevity?
TG: I think a lot of luck. Avoiding some serious injuries. You know, the ACLs, the PCLs, all those CLs. And then I think over the last five years, it’s because of the way I treat my body. I’m pretty strict on my diet. Especially during the football season.
MM: What does an average day of food look like for you?
TG: Breakfast is always healthy. It’s always like an oatmeal, with a fruit smoothie with vegetables. Lunch and dinner, I try to make sure 80 percent of the time I’m eating really, really clean. And that means whole foods, plant-based-type meals with some fish, some chicken every once in a while. And rarely, rarely ever do I touch red meat.
Just one of 1,242 catches in the league… so far.
MM: Got a secret-weapon food? Or another secret weapon?
TG: I do a lot of smoothies. Where I mix kale, spinach, blueberries. I eat a lot of raspberries, a lot of papaya. And I think getting good rest has helped, too. That can never be overlooked. I usually get eight hours. When I was younger, I didn’t always get that much rest. But I really feel the difference. The more rested I am, the more alert I am, the better I perform out there.
MM: Now that Tim Tebow is a Patriot, there’s been a little talk about him playing tight end. What do you make of that? Is that an easy position to pick up?
TG: I think it’s ridiculous. In fact, it’s a little insulting when people say a quarterback or an offensive lineman just needs to go play tight end. Like that’s the shitty position on the field that anyone can play. The truth is, there’s no way. He can’t just switch to it. It’s like me saying I’m just going to go play corner or outside linebacker or something. As much as you think you can do it, there’s so much that goes into it, from blocking to catching. I’ve never seen it work. It doesn’t work.
MM: If a guy wanted arms as big as yours, what would be your training advice for him?
TG: Curls—if they’re looking for bigger biceps. For triceps, I really like kettlebell swings. That’s been my big go-to workout for the last year. I used it all throughout the season and I felt great this year. It works your triceps really well. But then it also gives you an explosive, full-body workout. It’s my favorite.
If you were 6’5″, you would dunk the football after your touchdowns, too.
MM: Got any grooming tips for guys?
TG: Well, flake-free hair is important. I mean, as a guy who wears a helmet for a living, I know those flakes can creep up on you, ha ha. So you gotta make sure you keep your hair looking nice and tight, just like the rest of your outfit.
MM: What’s the best piece of football advice you’ve ever gotten, and what’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever gotten?
TG: They’re one in the same. You get out of it what you put into it. If you want to be a good football player, you’ve got to put time into it. I figured that out after my second year in the league—that the more you put into it, the better the results. And that’s life. I don’t care what you’re doing, you gotta work at it. That’s the way I approach my marriage, that’s the way I approach being a father, that’s the way I approach everything.
MM: It’s early, but how are your Falcons looking? Feel like you’ve got all the pieces for a Super Bowl run?
TG: I sure do. We’ve got a good football team, and they keep adding to it. With Osi Umenyiora coming over from the Giants, with Steven Jackson coming in, maybe even Richard Seymour coming over from the Raiders, to go along with the core group that we have, it can be something special. But we’re a long way away from being in a Super Bowl. We’re 16 regular season games and then some playoff games away, and we know that, so it’s not going to be easy. But we got a good shot. We got just as good a shot as anybody else in the league.
MM: Any parting words of wisdom?
TG: Be kind. Treat people how you want to be treated, and good things will happen to you.