The excerpts from Seth Wickersham's ESPN the Magazine profile of Tony Gonzalez kicked off a small firestorm. Fans excoriated Gonzalez for wanting a trade but not asking for one, and in turn fans excoriated other fans for doubting Gonzalez.
I've now read the entire piece, and I wanted to share what I could to help clear up some of the context issues that naturally surround a few quotes making their way into the Internet and giving birth to controversy.
Wickersham was with Gonzalez throughout the 2013 season, so he had a rare glimpse into what Gonzalez was thinking and feeling during what he vowed would be his last NFL season. Here's what I gleaned from the piece:
Your thoughts on the piece? Remember it'll be available online next week, and it's on newsstands today.
UPDATE: Tony Gonzalez was on the Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio and had a few interesting comments.
On the last season: "The process of learning through adversity." He spoke of the losing being agonizing and blamed much of the team's struggles on injury. Repeatedly noted the injuries were a major issue throughout the season and felt it cost the team games.
On the trade deadline: "I never asked for a trade." Said he would never go up there and demand a trade. "If it is something that was on the table, yes, of course, I'd be willing to listen to it." He said that knowing it was his last year, and that the reason he came back was to get a Super Bowl, it would be something that he would have at least listened to. "Put yourself in my shoes," he said, and alluded to his strong desire to win.
He copped to being frustrated after the deadline, but not truly upset. He said he felt that way for "an hour," and he was back to playing football for the Falcons. He asked listeners to put themselves into the organization's shoes, as well, and noted that trading him away would have been akin to throwing in the towel. He said he understood the decision completely, particularly after the frustration passed.
On Matt Ryan: "He is an unbelievable talent, and he has unbelievable skill...there is no stopping him." Alluded to the offensive line issues and injuries to Julio Jones and Roddy White, holding him back. "He is an inch away" from being elite. Says "It's somewhat embarrassing on their part" of those who don't believe Ryan is an upper echelon quarterback. He was pretty effusive, in short.
On returning in 2014: Didn't rule out returning in 2014 if the Falcons were 10-0. Duh.
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