More times than not when a player publicly expresses their feeling slighted by their teams’ management, fans do not side with the player. Of course, in most instances those public statements revolve around a contract dispute, playing time, or wanting to be more involved in some aspect of the team. However, in the case of Tony Gonzalez, fans are more apt to side with the player.
Gonzalez has been one of the premier, if not the best, tight ends in the NFL since his arrival in 1997. During his 12 years in Kansas City, Gonzalez has set the NFL record for receptions by a tight end, receiving yards by a tight end, and touchdown receptions by a tight end, along with numerous Chiefs’ records, 9 Pro-Bowl appearances and 8 All-Pro selections. More than that, Gonzalez has been one of the few good guys in a league known more for its spotlight starving players and notable arrests. He has been loyal to a team that has been to the playoffs just 3 times and had 5 winning seasons during his tenure. You hardly, if ever, heard him complain about the situation in Kansas City, throw a teammate under the bus, or chastize the coaching staff and management for not getting better talent around.
So, when it was reported a few days ago that the 32 year-old asked management to trade him to Super Bowl contender, most saw it as a earnest player trying to get one last shot, a shot he knew he was not going to get with a very young and rebuilding Chiefs team. Even though management wanted "the right price" in exchange for their talented tight end, most thought that out of respect for his service to the Chiefs, he would be dealt and given the chance to win a title before his career winds down.
According to an interview he had with FOXsports.com, Gonzalez talked to Chiefs GM Carl Peterson about the possibilities of a trade on the eve of the trade deadline. Gonzalez had asked Peterson if he thought they could get a deal done if the Chiefs were offered a 4th round pick, to which Peterson said no and spoke of getting a package commensurate to what the Giants got for Jeremy Shockey, which included a second round pick. Apparently Gonzalez told Peterson that no one was going to trade a second rounder for a 32-year old tight end and Peterson appeared to settle on getting a third round pick.
And he was right. Despite Peterson’s claim to Gonzalez that he would make a deal for a third rounder, no deal was done, and it is hard to understand why. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers offered a third rounder to the Chiefs, but Peterson set the price at a second rounder, something the Pack were unwilling to do as they would have been on the hook for the remaining 3 ½ years of Gonzalez’s deal, worth just under $20 million.
From the Chiefs standpoint, it seems odd that they would not take the third rounder given that Gonzalez’s trade value is not likely to increase as he gets into his mid-30's. A third round offer this year may turn into a fourth round offer next year, a fifth the year after and so on.
From Gonzalez’s standpoint it is a kick in the teeth. He has been loyal to a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1993 and has a GM who has somehow kept his job for 18 years despite not fielding a consistent winner. Unfortunately for Gonzalez, he has 3 years left on his current deal and is unlikely to be dealt if Peterson insists on fleecing another team.
However, Gonzalez did not callout Peterson, threaten to hold out or put into anyone’s mind any measure of doubt that he will do anything other than what he has for the past 12 seasons–just go out and play. He said:
"But you know what? I can't cry about it. If anything, this has motivated me even more. I'm a Chief, will be happy to be a Chief and will bust my butt for the Chiefs. I was never not happy being a Chief. I just wanted the chance to spend my last couple of years winning a title, not rebuilding. But I'm here to help rebuild, I'll work with all our young guys and get after it like I always have."
While Gonzalez remains classy, the Chiefs, in particular Peterson, showed a severe lack of class. They got a fair offer for a player who will be on the decline in the near future as he will turn 33 in the off season and has been nothing short of a class act and outstanding football player, and yet they will not return the respect and loyalty and allow him to go after something he will not be able to in Kansas City–a shot at a title.