Anyone that’s spent even a few minutes speaking with Tony Gonzalez realizes quickly that he’s wired a little differently. To be the best, you’ve got to think like the best, but that hasn’t always been the case.
In an exceptional column from ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure, we learn that as a rookie, Gonzalez had the talent to start and be the player he is today, but he didn’t have the necessary confidence or mentality upstairs.
“What separates good players from great players or starters from non-starters is a mentality, and I didn’t have the right mentality at that time,” Gonzalez told McClure. “I just had a lackadaisical approach: just going out to practice and coming in right after practice. I didn’t know how to work at that point. Confidence, too. I didn’t have the best confidence in the world at that point. I wouldn’t have started me, either.”
Gonzalez discusses a number of things with McClure, but the article focuses on the first game of his career, way back in 1997.
Here are a few more nuggets of fun information learned from McClure’s article on the career of Gonzalez:
- Gonzalez wore No. 44 in college and since tight ends aren’t allowed that number in the NFL, he simply doubled it to his familiar 88 because he figured he’d “be twice as good.”
- Gonzalez shared the field in his first game with three future Hall-of-Famers.
- His first career catch came against an All-Pro.
- The nickname his first special teams coach gave him as a rookie.