Tony Gonzalez: Best Receiver Not Named Rice?

16 October, 2011

When he retires he plans to be a fire
department's designated baby-catcher.
Tony Gonzalez can move into 2nd all-time in receptions today. He has 1,096 and is 4th. Cris Carter had 1,101 for 3rd and Marvin Harrison is 2nd with 1,102. 1st all time is a bit out of reach. Rice had 1,549. He needs 7 catches to move into second.

I don't mean to alarm you, but if you look up the active leaders in career receiving yards in the NFL, you'll find Tony Gonzalez at the top of the list. I would imagine this is the first time in history that a Tight End has held this distinction.

He gave up Basketball because it was far too easy.
Pro Football Reference actually lists him at #3 with 12,752 yards, trailing Randy Moss with 14,858 and Terrell Owens with 15,934. Moss retired and Owens is a free agent, though he claims he's coming back. So depending on how strictly you define "active," you could have Tony G on top.

Gonzalez is the best Tight End ever. He holds all TE records there are to be had. He's also a hell of a blocker.

Some of the TEs these days are more like Wide Receivers. They line up outside more, they aren't often asked to act like an Offensive Tackle and help pound the rock. So some of these younger TEs are putting up bigger numbers than Tony did, but it's almost like they play a different position. Tony was part of the offensive lines that made Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, and Michael Turner into running machines, while he was also setting records as a receiver.
He gets confused about the NFL's alley-oop rules.

So clearly he's accomplished more than any other TE. But is he one of the best Receivers of all-time?

We like to talk about how many 1000-yard seasons receivers have, because we like base-10. Tony G has 8 900-yard seasons and 4 1000-yard seasons.

In 2004 he led the league in receptions. He's caught at least 70 balls in 11 seasons.

He's 14th on the all-time list for receiving yards, ahead of Art Monk and Michael Irvin.

By the end of this season, he'll probably pass Irving Fryar (needs 33 yards), Steve Largent (needs 350 yards), Andre Reed (needs 450 yards), and could pass Torry Holt (needs 650). If he plays next year he could pass Henry Ellard (about 1000 behind him), Cris Carter (about 1200), and James Lofton (1400 or so). He could easily be 7th on the all time list in 15 months.

He's 9th all-time in Touchdown catches. 1st amongst active players (again if you don't count Moss and Owens).

Tony G's greatness goes beyond statistics.

He saved a man's life with the heimlich maneuver. A Charger fan.

He literally saved a man's life by knocking him over. No seriously, he ran into a photographer after a play, causing a concussion which led to doctors discovering a brain tumor that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. That's Jesus territory.

Oh and he literally fucks October. And I mean literally, because he's like Paul Bunyan. His wife's name is October, but it's also the month his teams have the best record. So when Tony bangs October, they made a River...River Gonzalez. Seriously, he IS Paul Bunyan.

And he's only ever missed 2 games. Drafted in 1997, he missed one game in '99 and another in '06. That's it. That's 231 games in the NFL.

Before Leaf and Manning there was the
Lafleur/Gonzalez debate. Good call Cowboys.
The sad footnote to his career is 0 playoff wins. He lost to the '97 Broncos as Elway led them to a championship. He lost in '03 to Manning and the Colts in a game that had no punts. He lost to the '06 Colts on their way to a Super Bowl win. And he lost to Aaron Rodgers and the Super Bowl champion Packers last year.

Tony recently said he could play another 3 years. It sounds ridiculous. But you know what, Tony Gonzalez is pretty ridiculous.

He's a hall of famer without doubt. But at some point we're going to have to stop thinking of Tight Ends and Wide Receivers as totally different positions. So where does he rank amongst TEs and H-Backs and Wideouts and whatever the hell Reggie Bush is? That's what we're going to have to figure out at some point. (Just not about Reggie Bush, he sucks. FYI, Reggie Bush has fewer rushing yards in the NFL than Mark Brunell.)

So today, watch for Tony G to maybe move into #2 all time in receptions.

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