I will go out on a limb and answer the title question to this article. No! Although it can be argued that the new offensive rules in the NFL will lead to more impressive receiving numbers in the future, even if a Jimmy Graham or a Rob Gronkowski eclipsed one or more of Gonzalez’s records, there will only be one Tony G.
Gonzalez’s durability in the NFL has been unparalleled. Since 1997, the tight end has played in at least 15 games every season, missing only one game in 1999 and another in 2006. In his 17 seasons, he amassed 1325 receptions, 15,127 yards receiving, 111 touch downs, while fumbling a measly 6 times. His 1325 receptions are second only to the legend Jerry Rice, while his 15,127 yards receiving put him 5th on the all-time list. (the only tight end anywhere near the top of the list)
Although he will clearly be remembered for his receiving stats, Gonzalez was equally as adept in blocking for the run-game. With number 88 acting as the sixth offensive lineman, Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes enjoyed their best rushing seasons ever. (both with the Kansas City Chiefs)
But for all his accolades, the 2013 Good Guy Award from the Professional Football Writers of America perhaps sums up the man best. One of the most popular NFL players over his illustrious career, Tony Gonzalez has been equally as good a Samaritan and philanthropist as he’s been a professional football player. His legacy will not be simply remembered as a tight end with great hands, but as a man with a huge heart.
As a father of two young children, I recognize that there is only so much I can teach them about ability; especially given the genetic limitations I have provided them. But to offer up a role model who ALWAYS displayed grace, dignity, and class is a life lesson I surely know they can benefit from. Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowsi, and even the disgraced ex-Patriot Aaron Hernandez may all have been blessed with the skill set afforded to Tony Gonzalez. But in 17 years in the pros, Tony Gonzalez has proven that he was surely one of a kind.