Tony Gonzalez

The sure to be first-ballot NFL Hall of Fame inductee, Tony Gonzalez visited The Fast Life to discuss his 15th professional football season and discuss the forthcoming 2011 Atlanta Falcons season for which he believes his team is built to earn a trip to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI, just about the only achievement that has thus far eluded him during his illustrious record setting career as a tight end.

“I’m not worried about a playoff win, I haven’t won one yet! That’s not on my mind,” states Gonzalez who believes, “if they pick up a couple of a players on that defensive side of the ball, through free agency, there’s no stopping this team. We went 13-3 last year, and we are going to be even better. We got a shot to go out there and win the whole thing, and I want to make sure we get that opportunity.”

Among the new offensive acquisitions this season, include the 6th overall draft selection Julio Jones, for who the Falcons jumped 21 draft places to acquire via a blockbuster draft day trade with the Cleveland Browns. “For what we gave up for him in the draft and all the hype that’s been around him, I would like to think that he’s going to be able to go out there and prove that he was worth it, and if have anything to do with it, I’m going to be there every step of the way to help him make that adjustment, I know Roddy [White] is going to be and Coach Smith is great at that with the young players.”

The Falcons surrendered their own first-round pick (27), a second-rounder (59) and a fourth-rounder (124) this year, plus a first-rounder and a fourth-rounder next year to acquire the former Alabama Crimson Tide wide out. “[Jones] is a specimen, running 4.3 being 220 at 6’4”, 6’5”. It’s going to open everybody up,” explains Gonzalez who knows that “no longer will you be able to put the bracket coverage on myself or Roddy, otherwise you’re going to leave Julio one-on-one and that’s where going to need him to win one-on-one match-ups.”

That high priced addition to the Falcons receiving core signaled to the career receptions leader for tight ends that “we are going to a more chunk oriented-type of offense,” who has confident “expectations to be totally unpredictable, an explosive type offense … especially with Matt [Ryan],” who Gonzalez believes “is the key to this whole thing. By the end of the season, in my opinion, he should be at the top of the league as far as quarterbacks go. Collectively as an offense, I don’t see any reason we can’t be a top three offense in the league.”

It will not be an easy task in the NFC South as Gonzalez is well aware, “It’s going to be tough, its probably the toughest division in all of football,” says the former Kansas City Chief who amusingly adds, “it seems like that has followed me as well. Because I know the AFC West was always one of the toughest divisions with the Broncos, the Raiders and then San Diego and the Chiefs.” The Falcons’ division includes the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers is something Gonzalez counts as “a luxury for us to go against those teams and see where you stack-up.”

Once the NFL Lockout was lifted and free agency began, the Falcons signed defensive end Ray Edwards, a vital defensive addition, who Gonzalez knows will “help John Abraham go out there and get some sacks. Once we have that component of putting that pressure on the quarterback with the corner backs that we have, Brent Grimes, Tom DeCould, William Moore, it’s going to be a real good season for us.”

The eleven-time Pro Bowl tight end has enjoyed numerous good seasons over his decade and a half long career and explains the significance of the Lockout period had “to make sure that this game is in tact from every standpoint not just from the owners’ standpoint, or just from the fans’ standpoint. It’s got to be from the players as well. We are all in this together and we made this the number one game in America for a reason. We got to make sure that contract is fair . . . just like the players that have come before us [for] the future generation of players.”

However, the veteran was not necessarily too upset with one by byproduct of the Lockout. “I ain’t going to lie. I can’t stand training camp,” shares Gonzalez. “I do understand that it’s necessary for some of the younger players, guys that are not really familiar with the system; training camp is definitely an advantage and is going to help you prepare for the season.”

A former basketball player as well while at Cal Berkley, Gonzalez explains, “[Basketball] carries over to the game of football so well, especially for a big guy because it keeps you light on your feet, you’re going right hand, left hand, coordination, jumping, stopping, quick movement, getting opening; you are constantly catching the ball,” who goes as far as to claim, “I wouldn’t be the player I was today if I didn’t have basketball, and that’s why you see a lot of good tight ends are ex-basketball players.”

Gonzalez, who now operates his own all-natural supplement company, All-Pro Science explains, “Last year I got away from basketball because I was working so much with All-Pro Science. But this year I have incorporated back into my workout regime playing basketball about three times a week.” Lasting 15 seasons in the NFL is a rare, monumental accomplishment to which Gonzalez in part credits his nutritional and supplemental regime which he encourages anyone, especially the youth, to become more health conscience. “If you eat this way and you supplement this way, you will see amazing results. Especially as an athlete, it’s so important and I’m just glad that I can help bring that awareness to everybody.”

As #88 plays what may be his final season in the National Football League, the Atlanta Falcon is very focused knowing, “that this probably is going to be my last season, I don’t know for sure, but I don’t want any distraction. If this is my last year, I want to make sure we do everything necessary to make sure our team is focused and in a position come playoff time to win some playoff games and make it to the big dance and win the whole thing because we got that talent on this team.”

And when asked if he would exchange his NFL records for one Championship ring, the all time career leader for touchdowns at the tight end position adamantly exclaims, “Absolutely not! Not at all. I worked hard for those records. I put in the time and effort to be considered among the best that ever played this game. I made sure I put everything I had into it so I earned those records. A Super Bowl is one the hardest things to get. Football is the ultimate team sport. You can have the best offense in the league like we did in 2003 and you can have the worst defense in the league. And you can go 13-3 and lose the first round. You got to have good special teams. You got to have a good defense. You got to have a good offense in order to win the Super Bowl.”