It didn't take long for longtime NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez to find a new job. CBS is betting on the former Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons star to make a smooth transition to television as he replaces Shannon Sharpe and Dan Marino on the network's pregame show.
CBS issued a press release on Tuesday noting the change in personnel, which means The NFL Today will feature James Brown, Bill Cowher, Boomer Esiason and Gonzalez. CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said the new addition to the team will provide a fresh perspective:
Having just stepped off the playing field, Tony brings a fresh and insightful perspective. As a future Hall of Famer, we are excited for him to share his knowledge, experiences and opinions with our viewers. Tony was one of the most respected and hardworking players in the NFL and a tremendous teammate. We look forward to him bringing these attributes to CBS Sports.
Accepting the high-profile role at CBS would seem to ensure Gonzalez's playing career is over. Although last season was viewed as his last, he continued to state in recent weeks that he would consider returning next season for the stretch run to play for a contender.
Seth Wickersham of ESPN The Magazine recently passed along comments from Gonzalez, who had 83 catches for over 850 yards and eight touchdowns with the Falcons this past season, and he didn't completely rule out a return at that time:
Now nostalgia is seeping in. He'll miss the locker room. He'll miss the drive to work on I-985. He'll miss the refs telling him not to push off. All of this is slowly taking him down a path he hates but can't resist. On a double date with Matt and Sarah Ryan, Gonzalez says, "Maybe, if the team is hot in November, 9-2 or something, I could come back for the last two months."
"You're coming back!" Ryan says.
The CBS release doesn't make note of any type of restrictions on Gonzalez in terms of returning to the field in 2014. It's hard to imagine the network going through a major shakeup of its pregame show without a full commitment from its superstar addition, though.
It does state Gonzalez will also appear on other CBS platforms, including Inside The NFL.
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk sees the changes made by CBS as a net improvement:
Tony Gonzalez is replacing Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe on the CBS pregame show. I see that as an improvement.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) February 18, 2014
Sharpe commented on his exit from the pregame show via his Twitter account:
I will not be a part of the Nfl today on CBS this fall. Although sadden and disappointed, I'm grateful of 10 yrs I was.— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) February 18, 2014
I'll find a new platform to share my passion, love and opinions on NFL/NFL related topics. I leave gr8 friends behind. You're in good hands.— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) February 18, 2014
Looking forward, if Gonzalez has indeed played his final NFL snap there's undoubtedly a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame waiting for him. He helped revolutionize the tight end position by tallying more than 1,300 receptions for over 15,000 yards and 111 touchdowns.
What do you think of CBS' changes?
He should have little trouble making the move to television. CBS notes he has worked in the medium dating back to his days in Kansas City. He also has the type of personality that should come off positively in his new role.
Assuming he stays around on a full-time basis without getting the itch to make an NFL return, he should give the CBS pregame show the boost it needs.