Tony Gonzalez is the greatest tight end in NFL history. He was a 14-time Pro Bowler, a six-time first-team All-Pro, a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, and he ranks second all time with 1,325 receptions. Not second all time among tight ends; second all time among pass-catchers. He trails only Jerry Rice in that department. He also has the most receiving yards (15,127) and touchdowns (111) among tight ends in NFL history.

So yeah, to say that Gonzalez was a leader in the locker room during his 17 brilliant NFL seasons is a bit of an understatement. If Gonzalez, now an analyst for CBS’ The NFL Today, were teammates with Colin Kaepernick, the two would definitely have a conversation about the quarterback’s ongoing social protest.

“I would absolutely speak to him,” Gonzalez said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I’d want to see where he’s coming from so we all can get on the same page. That’s his political view. That’s his American right. I respect that. But I would tell him, ‘Hey, look, I’m going to tell the media that I don’t agree with you, that I think it’s ridiculous, but also that I respect you and we can put our political views aside. Let’s win football games, and let’s make sure that we get in here together – or you need to get up in front of the team – and tell the team this is what you believe in.’ And he does. I think he has done that. He’s had to have understood – and he said it. He understood the polarizing effect this was going to have, and he took that chance anyway – and I commend him for that. That takes guts to stand up like that. Like I said, I don’t agree with it, but that’s his right.”

Kaepernick, who is protesting the treatment of minorities in America, is refusing to stand for the national anthem before games. Gonzalez, 40, didn’t encounter anything quite like this during his playing days, but there was occasional locker-room drama from time to time.

“Usually it was more for off-the-field trouble – guys getting arrested or DUIs,” Gonzalez said. “I remember one time with me, I asked for a trade while I was playing with the Kansas City Chiefs. That hit the media, they put it out there, they did not trade me. So now I got to go back with the team and everybody’s saying, ‘The team’s going to look at you like, okay, you didn’t want to be with us.’ And I told them where I was coming from with that. It was my 12th year in the NFL, and I didn’t think I was going to play another five years, even though I did. But at that time, you couldn’t have paid me $100 million to stay, so I had to tell them why and just get it (out in the) open. Whether you agree with me or not, this is where I’m coming from. Please respect that, and let’s go out there and win some football games.”


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