Kansas City is where it all began for tight end Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons star tight end who will end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not only did he start his career there, but Gonzalez spent a dozen seasons in K.C. crafting perhaps the greatest career for anyone in his position in NFL history.
So, it stands to reason that he will feel some kind of way about returning there for the first time as a player in four years.
“It’s going to be kind of weird going in there,” Gonzalez, 36, said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s going to be like going back to the house that you grew up in.”
He is unfamiliar with entering Arrowhead Stadium from the visitor’s locker room, but he will give himself time to find his way. He told the AJC he plans to catch the earlier bus from the hotel to the stadium, the bus usually taken by rookies and staffers.
Getting there early will allow him the time necessary to greet and convene with all the old friends and acquaintances and still have time to go through is normal pre-game regimen.
“There’s a lot of heartbreak on that field,” said Gonzalez, referring to a some first-round playoff exits with the Chiefs. “A lot of triumphs, too. It’s something that I’m looking forward to.”
Gonzalez said he has given his Falcons teammates the Falcons about how a heads up on how boisterous and deafening the Chiefs fans will be.
“It’s unlike anything you’ve heard,” Gonzalez said. “I told them every time they get a first down, the whole crowd is going to yell ‘first down.’ It’s a great environment as far as tailgating. … I expect with it being opening day that it’s going to be a rowdy crowd.”
Gonzalez requested a trade in 2008 because he didn’t believe he could endure another rebuilding program. He was traded to the Falcons for a second-round pick that was used to select cornerback Javier Arenas.
In his three seasons with the Falcons, Gonzalez has continued to climb the receiving charts. He’s become the second-leading receiver in NFL history with 1,149 catches. He trails only Jerry Rice, and ranks ninth all-time with 95 touchdowns.