When the Falcons converted tight end Tony Gonzalez’s 95-percent vow to retire into a 100-percent decision to play, the team was fine with not having 100 percent of his time during training camp.
As explained by D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the future Hall of Famer currently is on leave from the team. Gonzalez also won’t be playing in the preseason opener against the Bengals.
“Tony is gone,” coach Mike Smith told reporters on Saturday. ”Again, I don’t want to get into details. His son is starting football this week. It’s his first season of tackle football and he’s going to be with him. Our plan is that Tony will be missing the first preseason game but he will play in the last two preseason games. That’s an update and I don’t want to be having a Tony Gonzalez update moving forward, but that’s where we’re at right now.
“We knew this ahead of time. Not to rehash it but Tony had made these commitments to his family prior to deciding to come back and play. When Tony can be here, he is going to be here and be a part of it and I think that was very evident by him being here for the first three days of practice.”
On one hand, Gonzalez has the stature to finagle such considerations from the team. On the other hand, it potentially undermines the notion of “team” when one player has a different set of rules than everyone else.
That’s probably why Smith doesn’t want to talk much about it. He needs the rest of the guys to not become resentful of Gonzalez for getting special treatment.
Even though he is.