It didn't take long for Tony Gonzalez to find work after he retired from his Hall of Fame NFL career. But now, the new CBS Sports analyst is engaged in a media back-and-forth after comments he made to ESPN The Magazine about his former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
About two weeks ago, ESPN's NFL Twitter feed sent out the following quote from Gonzalez:
"Matt's an excellent quarterback. But he's not elite. He's this close" Recently retired Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez to @ESPNMag— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) February 6, 2014
From there, it made the rounds on sports tickers across the country, and Gonzalez noticed. In recent comments he made to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it seems the all-time great tight end is still peeved at the way his quotes were represented:
There was no firestorm. They pulled quotes from that article a couple of days before it came out, so now you’re not getting the whole story. ESPN was biased about it and so was the NFL Network. I saw the ticker where it said, "Tony calls out his former quarterback" or whatever. Which is ridiculous.
In this day and age, when news is dispensed in 140 characters or less, it's easy to pick out a juicy nugget from a long transcript and tease your story. That's exactly what the four-letter network did here, and Gonzalez told Ledbetter he reached out to Ryan to make sure there was no misunderstanding.
Gonzalez further explained to Ledbetter that his family and Ryan's family have grown close over the past few years and that he didn't feel a need to go out and publicly defend his comments.
And he went on to give some context to his thoughts, regarding where he places Ryan among today's NFL quarterbacks:
Matt is so close to being at the top of the NFL. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I stand by what I said. The Mount Rushmore for NFL quarterbacks is Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning and those guys are all potentially, you can make an argument. …I know at least two of them are first ballot Hall of Famers and Matt is almost there.
Did Tony Gonzalez's Comments About Matt Ryan Go Over the Line?
See? Makes sense.
When listening to Gonzalez's full argument, it doesn't seem like there is much to get worked up about.
Throughout his 17-year NFL career, including his last five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Gonzalez has earned a reputation of being one of the classiest and most professional athletes in the league. So when he makes a comment that can be perceived as inflammatory, some media publications will jump at the chance to drive page views.
In the end, this should do nothing to tarnish Gonzalez's reputation as he makes the cross over from the playing field to the broadcast booth. His nearly two decades of being an NFL icon outweigh a sensational tweet created to push web traffic and magazine subscriptions.