Head coach Mike Smith took advantage of his final opportunity with Tony Gonzalez around the team and asked the future Hall-of-Famer to address his teammates during the team’s meeting at their hotel the night before Sunday’s game.
Gonzalez experienced his share of highs in Kansas City, but he was a part of six losing seasons there, too, and had plenty of lessons to share about how those years made him stronger.
Some players in the Falcons’ locker room haven’t experienced a losing NFL season until this year, and Gonzalez made sure to turn the year into a teachable moment.
“My message was, learn something from this year. There’s a lot of growing you can have when you’re in adversity, when you’re in a losing situation,” Gonzalez said. “I know that’s what brought me here today. My second year in the league when I dropped 17 balls and I had that horrible year, it made me the person I am today.
“That’s what I wanted to stress to those guys, use this year. Make it count for something because the sky’s the limit. There’s so much talent on this team, and looking forward if they figure it out, how to work the right way, which I think they will because the core group of guys do that, guys like Matt (Ryan), Julio (Jones), guys like a couple of the defensive players. It’s a big deal. It’s a big deal and it’s going to make this organization great.”