Tony Gonzalez: A high motor chugs on alternative fuel

Regardless of the occupation, it’s always a treat to watch a pro at work. Tony Gonzalez is a pro’s pro. A tiny example:

After practice Tuesday morning, the Falcons’ tight ends gathered around Chris Scelfo, their position coach, for extra work. Taking turns, each slipped on a harness tethered by one of those heavy-duty resistance bands and ran with the ball while being tugged the other way. (Think of this as the John Mackey drill. The greatest-ever tight end would routinely lug defenders for 10-yard ride-alongs.)

It was tough going, and all four were chugging hard. Chugging hardest without seeming to chug at all was Gonzalez, who’s in the discussion when the subject is greatest-ever tight ends. He emits effort without appearing to emit anything at all. In football argot, he has a high motor that runs smooth.

He’s also, as you doubtless know, particular about what he eats. He’s not quite a strict vegetarian, but he’s close. He has just published a book — “The All-Pro Diet: Lose Fat, Build Muscle and Live Like a Champion” — with nutritionist Mitzi Dulan. There aren’t many places less suited to what the book calls a diet “low in animal protein and high in whole organic plant-based and unprocessed food” than the raw-meat realm of professional sports, but Gonzalez tries to put his tofu where his mouth is.

A 2008 Wall Street Journal article by Reed Albergotti describes Gonzalez’s diet, although its title — “The 247 lb. Vegan” – isn’t technically correct. Gonzalez does eat some meat, just not much. (A recent Sports Illustrated profile by Austin Murphy covers much of the same ground and gives a more rounded portrait of Gonzalez.)

Thomas Dimitroff, who made the April trade with Kansas City that brought Gonzalez to Atlanta, follows a similar diet and has passed his annotated list of favorite meatless eateries to the new man. There is, however, one difference: Gonzalez weighs 243 pounds, according to his Falcons’ bio; the general manager might weigh half that.

But enough about lentils. Back to Tuesday’s drill. When finally it was done and the four men headed to the locker room, one said to Gonzalez: “Will you take me to Hawaii, Tony?”

And another said: “Yeah, will you buy me a plane ticket?”

Gonzalez just laughed. Hawaii used to the permanent site of the Pro Bowl. (The 2010 edition will be played in Miami a week before the Super Bowl.) Gonzalez made that trek 10 times in his first 12 seasons as a pro. And now the guys working alongside just look at him and think, “That’s the way it’s done in this league.” Tony Gonzalez’s way.

51 comments Add your comment

east2surf

August 20th, 2009
5:38 am

As it should be. Anyone wanting anything in this league should WORK for it. I really love what the Falcon’s brass is doing with the make up of this team, from coaches down to the individual players. High energy, team-first mentality, and a good work ethic are essential to building a championship caliber team. I see the makings of an elite team being built over the next couple of years, and, dare I say it, the makings of a future dynasty?

Dave

August 20th, 2009
6:07 am

Tony Gonzalez is 33 years old and in great shape this is why age alone is not a great way to judge professional athletes. Tony had around 90 catches last year so he is highly effective and no doubt being in peak shape is the reason for it. On the other hand I read where ex-Falcon TE Alge Crumpler is close to 300 LBs and is 32 years old and in reality much older than Gonzalez is because he is not taking care of his body.

Mitch

August 20th, 2009
6:12 am

That deal could be one of, it not the, best acquisition in Falcons history. What we got and what we gave up shows a shrewd approach to getting pieces that make us better. Can anyone think of, in your opinion, better acquisitions by the Falcons? List them and lets see if this one stands out that much.

Unca' Bob

August 20th, 2009
6:56 am

Mitch,

T. Dimitroff.

Mac

August 20th, 2009
7:48 am

Bob nailed it.

Aunt Wilma

August 20th, 2009
7:56 am

Mitch – how about a few years ago (maybe 2002), when we made a trade with San Deigo and managed to move up and take the number 1 pick in the draft. That was pretty good!

dl

August 20th, 2009
7:57 am

A nice piece about our newest addition. Thanks Mark. Lately things have been too heated. I for one have taken the bait. Go Falcons

Rover

August 20th, 2009
7:58 am

Good for you, maybe. For me, not so much.

Nativebird

August 20th, 2009
8:08 am

great trade, great move, great player, great fit, (soon to be great GM!). Can’t wait to see how far the Ryan-to-Gonzalez Duo can go!

washedup

August 20th, 2009
8:28 am

More importantly, if I quit eating meat, will it help me hit my 3 iron?

Mark Bradley

August 20th, 2009
8:30 am

Didn’t see the Mort Report. Sorry.

Mark Bradley

August 20th, 2009
8:31 am

Greatest acquisition in Falcons history? You mean, greater than Jeff George?

jimmy

August 20th, 2009
8:50 am

I hope to run into him at Dynamic Dish in Old 4th Ward one day.

JT

August 20th, 2009
8:51 am

Not only does Tony bring his incredible skill but more importantly he brings a professionalism and proper work ethics that will be contagious and will show the team the proper work habits that make a true champion.

Atlanta fans need to back off and give our our coaches and administration the time to develop the team. The most critical part of a team is team chemistry. TO showed that no matter how much talent you have if there is no team chemistry the team will not go very far.

If you look at all the Super Bowl champions in the past they all took multiple years developing and putting to together the pieces to get there. Give the Falcons time.

Give the Falcons time?????...

August 20th, 2009
9:01 am

I guess 43 years is not long enough!!!!!

Ryno

August 20th, 2009
9:07 am

Have to check out that book. Can’t say that I’m a huge fan of Lentils – maybe Tony G will let me sub it out for a Boca Burger.

Mr. Bradley – does this mean you’ll be putting down the bratwurst at the tailgates and picking up soy dogs instead?

Sun Tzu 7

August 20th, 2009
9:10 am

Whenever I hear these things about Gonzalez I keep thinking about how Roddy White grew as a player because of Joe Horn. Although Joe didn’t do too much on the field the impact he had on Roddy was worth every penny we paid Mr Horn.

Now we have possibly the greatest tight end in NFL history on our team showing the young guys how it should be done. You can’t expect him to inspire everyone but I think Tony G is starting to rub off on several players.

I’ve noticed the way Michael Jenkins catches the ball is starting to remind me a little of Tony G. Hopefully while Harry D rehabs he will be like a sponge and come out so much stronger…. and just having Tony G on the field is going to make things easier for Roddy.

The impact Tony can have on the younger players…. that could benefit the Falcons for years to come…. and I LOVE that.

And that’s what I’m most excited about.

FALCON SORRY (Impersonation)

August 20th, 2009
9:19 am

TONY GONZALEZ SOFT. HE SO SOFT AND OLD NOT LIKE MV7. YOU SAY TONY GONZALEZ IS RUBBING OFF ON PLAYERS? I WISH HE WOULD RUB ONE OFF ON ME. FO SHO. WORD. DAS WASSUP

Ken

August 20th, 2009
9:26 am

Aunt Wilma, refresh my memory. What 2002 trade?

MightyQuinn

August 20th, 2009
9:26 am

Just watched Mort’s piece on The World Wide Leader’s show, and the more I see, the more I like Gonzalez. A ten time pro bowler, and he looks and talks like a guy who Hollywood would get to play the hero in a football flick. It is truly amazing what TD has done to change the culture of this franchise. I am really looking forward to watching the Ryan/Turner/White/Gonzalez beast attack on offense……But the defense scares me to death.

YUP!!

August 20th, 2009
9:28 am

LOL!!!!! FL impersonaton.

Sun Tzu 7

August 20th, 2009
9:31 am

‘He so soft and old not like MV7′ So MV7 is young and hard.

‘Rub one off one me?’

Nice. Are you even aware how that sounds?

This unconditional man love you have is starting to make more sense.

shadykraft

August 20th, 2009
9:33 am

When did atlanta suddenly get a fourt ward? Where is the first three? Gonzo will make a huge impact. Freezing the safeties on just a simple stick route. 90 catches last year on a pretty bad team.

shadykraft

August 20th, 2009
9:38 am

This is a great article. I want to start eating better.

Mark Bradley

August 20th, 2009
9:47 am

Yes it does, Ryno. I’ve sworn off Krystal.

Eagles hater

August 20th, 2009
9:50 am

When I read about all the fine men in the NFL of which we all can be proud of, it makes me sick that a piece of garbage like Mike Vick, the dog killer, pot smoker, thug, herpes, loser… gets to play in the NFL

Lets hope for a career ending injury for him

Gatorzone

August 20th, 2009
10:01 am

Besides freeing up White, Gonzo will pay huge dividends in the run game, especially off tackle. ( I am looking at you Norwood!)

gafan1

August 20th, 2009
10:21 am

Gonzo will make a huge difference in the red zone. He will give Ryan a big, versitale target in the end zone. Will he be worth the second round pick we gave up for him, we will see….

Sun Tzu 7

August 20th, 2009
10:21 am

Oh I missed the (Impersonation)… part.

Good one. I thought it was the genuine article.

You have a gift sir.

Paulie OldSchool

August 20th, 2009
10:27 am

The Austin Murphy story for SI on Gonzo is just a great story. Very inspirational, on several levels.

won't be going

August 20th, 2009
10:42 am

Tony won’t be going to this year’s Pro Bowl, he and his teammates will getting ready for the Super Bowl. Same for the stars of the opposing team, which is why it is idiotic to have the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl…but that’s another blog for another time.

won't be going

August 20th, 2009
10:43 am

Also, 4:44 a.m.? Man, MB, you are the definition of dedication

Green Tea

August 20th, 2009
10:49 am

Let us not forget that TG was taggin’ Vida Guerra. If you are one of the FEW people who have never heard of her try Google Imgaes.

PoliticalMan

August 20th, 2009
10:50 am

Not too many in the NFL that don’t work hard – competition too stiff to do otherwise. Bigger question is how Gonzalez gets used and adapts to new situation. No guarantees.

Re: Gonzalez diet. Healthy eating has been in the media for the last 30 or so years. Since when did good information and ideas have any impact on the public. Americans have to have 100 lbs of ugly fat or worse before they start to display any intelligence regarding eating. I’d be willing to wager a large sum of money that football fans are the worst, perhaps closely followed by sports writers.

Hamad Meander

August 20th, 2009
11:20 am

Tony Gonzalez is definitely the type of leader the Falcons needed in the lockeroom. I am hoping to see how much better he makes this team soon. It also makes you think, if an athlete pays as much attention to his diet as he did the rest of his training, how long a career could that lead? I would think that sports like football, basketball, and tennis (ones that are very endurance heavy), the athlete would benefit greatly.

We eat a lot of food that does not help our bodies run well. It is different for an athlete who depends mostly on his/her body to perform well, as such I bet most top athletes are very conscious of their diet.

Having said all of that, I’m off to the local mexican restaurant for lunch…..

falcon4life

August 20th, 2009
11:22 am

Thankfully the days of bonheaded moves loke trading away R.C. Theilman, Gerald Riggs, Brett Favre, trading for Jeff George, letting Deion Sanders go and one of the greatest of all time trading (basically) Ladaninan Tomlinson and Drew Brees for M. Vick. are behind us. It seems like the falcons are finally an intelegint organization! I am proud to be a falcon fan!

Mark Bradley

August 20th, 2009
11:23 am

I am, Won’t Be Going, the definition of “dunderhead.” But thanks all the same.

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 20th, 2009
11:47 am

I still think the best Falcon acquisition of all time was when Norm Van Brocklin drafted John Wayne from Apache U. (Yes that really happened.)

Chris

August 20th, 2009
12:22 pm

Can someone explain to me why the Pro Bowl is the week before the Super Bowl? Usually the teams in the big game are the ones who have the most Pro Bowl players. I would doubt that the week before the big game that teams would let their players step close to a football field. What’s the point?

Capt Caveman

August 20th, 2009
12:47 pm

chris — you have no clue, do you?? Google “PRO BOWL” and read the hundreds of articles that have been written about why they moved the date and time of the game.

robaire garrett

August 20th, 2009
1:46 pm

I reported last year prior to the trade for Tony G. how significant this trade would be when it was first reported that Tony was seeking a new team. I wrote a long extended report indicating that this would be a major upgrade for the Falcons and how this would possibly take them to the ultimate dance. I am sure Mark B. or Jeff S. have this archived somewhere. I wrote of the subject back in 2008 (possibly November or December). I have a hard copy about this subject in my library, I wish I could find it in order to validate my claim prior to the actual trade for Tony G. It points out various reasons and authenicates my point as to the mindset of the Falcons, fans, and wanna be general managers of the Atlanta Falcons.com message board. I illustrated the differences of opinions, race and so forth and so on as to when Mr. Mike Vick was with the team and how much emphasis was pretty much outlined for Matt Ryan and establishing a complete team opposed to when Mr. Mike Vick was quarterbacking the Falcons (it was pretty much in my opinion quite different). I wish the current Falcons squad much success; however I wished the plans were the same for Vick (coaches, offensive line, defensive line, wide receivers (who are actually catching the ball since Vick departure), a running back who can actually carry the load such as Michael Turner). I honestly feel that had not Jamaal Anderson gotten hurt the Falcons probably would have made the Super Bowl like they did in 1998 with Jamaal A. (a supreme running back before he got hurt) all of this is moot at this point, so we will move on with the current Falcons and coaches, new team mates etc. and ride this thing to the Super Bowl; you got to belive this is possible with the makeup of the current team. Go Falcons! Also, I wish to let it be known that when San Diego were pondering what to do with their pick, I chose Mr. Mike Vick coming to the Falcons before Mr. Dan Reeves made that pick; and there were so good years as far as the Falcons at the time becoming a team again (a recogniable team) in which they were lacking before Vick came onboard. So lets not forget those special moments as well. Welcome aboard Tony G! you will make a difference. Peace

SPS

August 20th, 2009
1:50 pm

Chris: I think the league felt like the Pro Bowl was anticlimactic after the Super Bowl. They felt like they could draw a bigger audience during the waiting period prior to the SB, when visibility and interest in the NFL is at it’s peak. Just a ratings thing. It does eliminate players from the two best teams from participating, but a lot of guys skip it anyway.

Trainwreck

August 20th, 2009
2:23 pm

I think Tony G. will be great for the team and Matt Ryan.. but that’s pretty much a given. However, having the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl is NOT cool… but as we all know… football is a business… hope it works out for the NFL

spectator

August 20th, 2009
4:12 pm

So. robaire garrett, what is the point of your long winded treatise? Are you saying you have more knowledge than Dan Reeves or just that you fancy yourself some sort of football genius? Are we supposed to be impressed? I think when it was common knowledge he was available quite a few people could figure out TG would be a good pick-up for the Falcons; didn’t take a genius.

Mark Bradley

August 20th, 2009
4:17 pm

I think they’ve moved the Pro Bowl to hype up the Super Bowl. As we know, there’s no publicity surrounding the latter game.

washedup

August 20th, 2009
4:50 pm

Robaire Garrett. .any hot stock tips?

Hamad Meander

August 20th, 2009
5:23 pm

Ok, so the Falcons have Tony Gonzalez and 99.98% of us agree that he will improve the Falcons team. Here’s the next question: What player or position is the next one that could receive the Gonzalez treatment? Are we looking at the waiver wires in a week or so for something in particular?

I would think that a guy like Derrick Brooks would be interesting, but at outside linebacker vs. middle. What about R.W. McQuarters for kick returns? Is this the point where any significant signings won’t happen until after next years draft?

Nexy year’s draft, barring free agency losses, should feature defense again…..

Mark Bradley

August 20th, 2009
5:31 pm

Derrick Brooks’ name has come up on here so often, Hamad, I’m starting to think it’s an idea.

Reid Adair

August 20th, 2009
8:32 pm

Tony Gonzalez is a phenomenal athlete and a first-class individual. He was a tremendous acquisition for the Atlanta Falcons and Thomas Dimitroff. That is yet another weapon for the offense.

neil

August 21st, 2009
12:16 am

your articles are completely pointless, we know Tony G’s awesome tell us something we dont know. how the heck do guys like you even have a job??