Tony Gonzalez will be remembered for a lot of things, but his teammates may remember him most for one of his final messages to the team. Gonzalez, the night before the final game of his career in Week 17, gave a stirring message to his teammates, reminding them to take adversity like the 2013 season and use it to get better.
The message resonated with the team because when a future Hall-of-Famer speaks about his 17-year career, everyone listens. Safety William Moore took Gonzalez’s words to heart and used that message to remind some of his young teammates to use the offseason to make sure a 4-12 record isn’t what the Falcons end up with next season.
“Tony G showed a lot by telling us if you want to perfect your craft, you’ve got to work hard,” Moore said last week. “You’ve got to do something other guys aren’t doing. I told the rookies that they’ve got to hit the ground running this offseason.”
Moore, who enters his sixth NFL season next year, is emerging as the leader of Atlanta’s defense and he said he’s always loved the game of football, but after this season and Gonzalez’s example, he said he intends to approach this offseason with a fervor and he expects his teammates to do the same.
“You’ve got to find what’s important to you,” Moore said. “After 17 seasons, he told us, he hadn’t had an offseason before. The eye-opener, when he realized what was important, is that everybody is good is the NFL. What are you going to do different to make you better than the guy that you’re lining up against? That was so huge. Everybody can catch. Everybody can run. What are you going to do differently? What’s your edge? You’ve got to find your edge.”
To be great, Moore said, a willingness to work year-round is required. After a 2013 season that saw Moore force four turnovers in the final five games, the safety expects next year’s Falcons defense to improve with the experience gained from this year. Moore doesn’t appear to be wasting any time in getting the taste of this season out of his mouth and if his defensive teammates can follow his example, things already appear to be encouraging for next year.