Willie Roaf and Will Shields never got Super Bowl rings; are they any less deserving of being called great players or consummate professionals? As far as I know, neither sought to be traded “to a contender” near the end of their careers. Brian Waters, at a similar career crossroads as Tony Gonzalez, hasn’t asked to be traded either – at least not openly. I can’t speak for anybody else, but it is quite clear in my mind that three of these four former or current veterans are indeed classy players who deserve a ton of my respect and appreciation and there is one for whom I have lost a considerable amount of both in recent days.
Going into this season, Tony Gonzalez was very vocal about how much he believed in the rebuild and how he very much wanted to be a part of it. That appears to have been no more than lip service. Maybe he wanted to believe what he was saying at the time but it is quite evident now that he did not truly believe a bit of it. Where I come from, that’s called a lack of integrity.
Tony did not become unhappy overnight. He did not suddenly become unhappy in the Denver game. He did not suddenly become unhappy after the Atlanta game. He has been unhappy ever since it stopped being fun for him to play for the Chiefs.
And just what is Tony’s definition of fun? It’s being able to play for a team that he considers to be a contender because that’s pretty much all he’s ever known until the last year or so. Don’t believe me? Look back at the Chiefs’ teams he played for over the years and show me one team that he was a part of that either lacked or were close to having the personnel and potential to win a championship? It has become clear to me that belief and/or patience in rebuilding are impossible things for Tony Gonzalez because he’s never had to go through this before and now that he is, quite apparently he is struggling with how to deal with it and in truth, appears to be on the losing side of that struggle.
One thing he is capable of right now though is looking at his fellow teammates and thinking “you guys are losers, that’s not where I’m from, if only I could get out of here . . .” And if were not bad enough, he’s made matters even worse now by very selfishly going public with that sentiment. Can you imagine what the mood of his teammates will be for the rest of this season with them now knowing how he really perceives them? How about TOXIC?
You can call Tony a great athlete, a hard worker, a disciplined pro, a statistical giant or the greatest tight end ever if you want but you cannot call him a team leader, an inspirational influence, or a master motivator because he is none of those. If he possessed any of those latter qualities, they would have manifested themselves in the face of adversity. Now that he faces true psychological adversity for the first time in his professional career, his reaction to it has been to complain, hurt the team, and seek any way possible to avoid that pain and frustration and to otherwise attempt to augment his personal glory by demanding the path of least resistance. It’s all been about him going out on a personal high note folks, nothing more.
I say Tony Gonzalez “the class act,” “the consummate professional” is a hero myth created by the Chiefs front office and further promulgated through NFL marketing and the media hype/diva machine of BFFs like Oprah and her ilk. Bottom line, Tony may be a great athlete but he is no more of a “great guy” than Dr. Phil or Rachel Ray.
In the face of adversity, Tony has shown himself to be someone who only thinks about himself without regard to who he hurts. He does not possess leadership qualities, rather, he works from a vain, survivor mentality.
Whining publicly about not getting the record not only disrespected his coach (good way to make a positive example there) but also created an unnecessary distraction for the team which, in effect, threw cold water on what should have otherwise been a significant moment in the team’s development this season. That’s called hurting the team to placate your ego. By the way, I happen to agree 100% with the decision that Herm made in that situation and I’d be willing to bet that most of the team would tell you they felt the same way if you asked them. In fact, I imagine 9 out of 10 NFL coaches would have made the exact same choice if put in the same situation.
Going public about his desire to be traded impaired the team’s ability to leverage a good deal. Again, hurts the team to satisfy his ego. Even worse, because he went public with his wish, everyone in that locker room now understands that deep down he thinks of them as losers. Yet again, hurts the team to satisfy his ego.
Considering how Tony has had multiple chances to win a championship with the Chiefs, has been adored by fans and paid extremely well in the process, please somebody tell me, why would the Chiefs owe Tony another opportunity to do so elsewhere? And tell me also please, exactly what “classy,” “motivating,” or “inspirational” thing has he done lately for this team? Personally, I can’t think of any. All I can see is the damage he’s left in his wake of self-promotion.