Nowadays it’s very rare for any athlete to play his entire career for just one team. When that player returns to face his former team, it’s tough to know how he’ll handle it. Often, the reaction depends on how the player left his first team. For Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, he should expect nothing but a warm reception when the Falcons travel to Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday.
For the first time since 2008, the 12-time Pro Bowler returns to face the Kansas City Chiefs. Gonzales spent eleven years with the Kansas City organization. The Chiefs drafted him 13th overall in the 1997 NFL draft. By the time Gonzalez played his final game with the Chiefs, he owned five team records: most career receptions (916), receiving yards (10,940), receiving touchdowns (76), yards from scrimmage (10,954) and consecutive games with a reception (130).
While Gonzalez is looking forward to the game, he knows it’ll be an unusual feeling when he enters the stadium. “It’s going to be a little weird being in a different locker room and coming out of that tunnel when we first come in,” Gonzalez said on the Chiefs’ official website. “It’s going to be a little weird, but I’m looking forward to it.” The general consensus is that Gonzalez will receive a hero’s welcome when he steps onto the field Sunday.
While Gonzalez’ exit with the Chiefs wasn’t the ideal way to go, it could have been much worse. At the time of his trade, the Chiefs were in a rebuilding mode, but Tony wanted to play for a contender. Atlanta gave Kansas City a 2010 second-round pick, which was used on Javier Arenas.
One reason Gonzalez came to Atlanta was to have success in the playoffs. As a Chief, Gonzalez was 0-3 in the playoffs. Unfortunately, he hasn’t fared any better in Atlanta with the Falcons going 0-2, losing both times to the eventual Super Bowl Champion. While a single playoff win would be a nice step, like any NFL player, Gonzalez wants to win a Super Bowl. He believes this will be his last year and wants to go out as a Super Bowl Champion.
Gonzalez wouldn’t be staying in Atlanta simply to just win one playoff game. He feels Atlanta could be playing in the New Orleans Superdome next February. “I realize we have an opportunity to go to the playoffs, win a playoff game, and that’s what I want,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been playing my whole career for a chance to go to the Super Bowl and I feel we have as good a chance as anybody.”
Tony isn’t the only Falcon confident that this team can get over the hump in the playoffs. Veteran receiver Roddy White says this 2012 team is one to watch. “I think this is probably the most talented group we’ve had up to this point,” White said. “We can all run. I think our team’s fast. I think we play fast. I think it can be special.”
In order for this year to be special for the Falcons, they need to start this Sunday at Arrowhead. While this will probably be Gonzalez’ only visit to Kansas City as an opposing player, odds are anytime he wants to come back, he’ll be welcome anytime.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Falcons news, see CBS Sports Atlanta.
Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.