Falcons were careful in trying to talk Gonzalez back


Mike Smith is obviously a good football coach, but he’d have probably been a pretty good salesman as well.

The Falcons coach talked about the return of Tony Gonzalez, and it’s clear that he had a strategy for coaxing him back for another season after Gonzalez spent last year saying he was 95 percent sure he was going to retire.

“I told Tony, ‘I’m not going to talk about it after this day. I’m just hoping for that 5 percent, but I’m not going to address it through the season and nor should you’ and he didn’t,” Smith said, via the team’s official website. “He went through the rest of the season. The season ended, not quite what we wanted to get accomplished, and Tony was still intent on not playing anymore.”

But after the season, Smith was willing to slow-play things, to let the sting of an NFC Championship Game loss subside.

When it was time to talk to Gonzalez, he made sure to get on a plane and fly to his home in California, rather than doing business over the phone.

“I said ‘Tony, I’ll tell you what, I don’t want to do this on the phone. Let me hop on a plane, come out and have dinner with you and let’s really talk about this,’ ” Smith said. “So we went out and had dinner and had an opportunity to talk. The chances of him playing were kind of bending a little bit.”

Whether the meeting helped change Gonzalez’s mind about coming back, it showed a commitment on the part of the Falcons, who made bringing him back a specific focus during an offseason which saw them make a few precise moves.

7 responses to “Falcons were careful in trying to talk Gonzalez back

  1. I think the Falcons have really become a class act under Blank/Dimitroff/Smith. Just like the Steelers or Packers (and probably a host of others). Championships will come.

  2. Won’t be surprised if this ends up backfiring. Gonz is a beast – best receiving tight end to ever play the game, and he’s still better than most of the TE’s today, even at his age.

    But there’s something to be said for your heart being in the game. When a player has decided in his heart and mind that it’s time for him to walk away, but he gets talked into staying one more year…sometimes it’s just not the same. There’s a certain edge that often gets lost. Just look at Favre a few years ago. He got talked into staying one more year to make a Super Bowl run, and he completely collapsed because his heart just wasn’t in it anymore.

    Gonzalez is a + factor on any team, so it’s not like he’s going to be a liability. But if they’re expecting him to be a primary cog in the machine this year, they could be in for disappointment.

  3. Yeah, he’s only being saying that for a decade.

    Wonder if Smith payed for dinner? Could be some cap trouble there. I remember a coach giving a kicker a bottle of wine once….

  4. Agreed – Arthur Blank has been a true southern gentleman, and has really impressed by bringing in quality coaches and staff who in turn, continue to bring in (and develop) strong personnel.

    It’s nice to see what’s going on with that team.

  5. Grew up in KS as a die hard Seahawks fan, but dang it if I don’t love Tony G. Greatest TE ever in my opinion and a truly wonderful person. If my Hawks don’t get the Lombardi Trophy this year I’d love for the Falcons to take it home.

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