#1 – Tony Gonzalez, Tight End – Class of 2019
Tony Gonzalez is the one player on this list where the argument isn’t whether he is arguably a top 10 player at his position in NFL history. Instead, he is likely the greatest player to ever play his position ever.
Gonzalez, a two-sport star from the University of California, was an absolute stud from the time he was drafted in 1997 and was a major catalyst for changing the way teams evaluate tight ends. His rookie season he was named to the NFL’s All Rookie team, and after following that season with an even better one, he went on an absolute tear.
Starting in 1999, Gonzalez made every NFL Pro Bowl except one for the rest of his career and was named an All-Pro an incredible 10 times. He eclipsed 900 yards receiving in a season nine times, 1,000 yards four times, and 10 touchdowns three times.
His career production is untouchable both as a tight end and a receiver, ending his 17-year career at or near the top in all major categories. He is currently ranked first in NFL history in receptions for a tight end and third overall, first in receiving yards for a tight end and sixth overall, and second in receiving touchdowns for a tight end and eighth overall.
Now, there are many Chiefs fans who are critical of Gonzalez over comments he made regarding his time in Atlanta. In these days where the Chiefs are one of the most respected and well-run franchises, it’s easy to forget how the franchise struggled mightily for a time after the death of Lamar Hunt. In Gonzalez’ final two seasons with the Chiefs they had one of the worst stretches in NFL history, winning a paltry six games out of 32.
As one of the greatest players in team and league history, Gonzalez deserves to be remembered instead for the joy his goal post jams brought so many fans on Sunday. He was one of the most dynamic receiving threats in the history of the game, one that might arguably be better in today’s game, and his place at the top of this list was earned with blood, toil, tears and sweat.
“That’s what football has always taught me. On the football field, you’re going to be afraid. Adversity is going to come towards you. You can’t run from it.” – Tony Gonzalez