Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez moved into a very rarified status on Sunday. With 5 receptions for 62 yards, Gonzalez moved into second on the all-time list with 1104 receptions, passing both WR Marvin Harrison (1102) and WR Chris Carter (1101) on the same day.
With his characteristic humility, the 35-year-old Gonzalez’s view of the record was simple. “I guess I’m getting old any time you get up to these type of records,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez now trails only the incomparable Jerry Rice, whose career mark is 1,549 reception, 445 ahead of Gonzalez.
“There’s one thing I can guarantee you: Jerry Rice will not be caught,” Gonzalez grinned. “I’m happy with second place.”
But there is one important different between Rice and Gonzalez – Gonzalez plays tight end. He has far and away the most receptions ever by a tight end, with Shannon Sharpe the next highest tight end on the list, with 815 receptions and ranked 22.
Sharpe was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011, and Gonzalez is sure to follow him there once his playing days are over. His teammates have already started the campaign for him.
“Tony Gonzalez is an All-Pro’s pro,” receiver Roddy White said. “He’s a Hall of Famer already.
“It’s not just catching balls. He does everything right. He’s very consistent. He stays after practice, catching balls and comes in early and does the weight room thing. He doesn’t slack in any area of his game.
“He shows everybody what it takes to be in this league that long.”
The work ethic and the dedication are factors that his teammates highlight. And to achieve such a profound landmark is something built over years of hard work.
“I’m happy for him,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “Personally, it couldn’t happen to a better person.
“He has worked hard for everything that’s come his way. He has one of the best work ethics I’ve ever seen, never taking a shortcut.
Players that get to face off against him every day in practice are just as effusive in their praise.
“He’s amazing,” cornerback Dunta Robinson said. “To be second all-time to Jerry Rice? That’s incredible.”
“I’m honored to be playing on the same field with a player of Tony Gonzalez’s caliber.”
Tony Gonzalez is a quiet leader, but also one of the all-time greats. He has also amassed 12,843 yards (13th all-time) and 92 touchdowns (9th all-time) in his career, currently in his 15th season.
This year he is averaging 10.9 yards per reception, strikingly close to his career average of 11.6 per catch.
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