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Falcons’ Gonzalez Enjoys Another Td Dunk At Arrowhead


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http://www.kansascity.com/2012/09/09/3806056/falcons-gonzalez-enjoys-another.html

Falcons’ Gonzalez enjoys another TD dunk at Arrowhead

By RANDY COVITZ

The Kansas City Star

By RANDY COVITZ The Kansas City Star

Updated: 2012-09-10T16:58:19Z<p id="story_right">

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DAVID EULITT

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) spiked the football over the goalpost on his third quarter touchdown.


The idea to dunk the football over the crossbar was not Tony Gonzalez’s. Blame Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan.

Gonzalez, the longtime Chiefs’ tight end, caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Ryan in the third quarter of Atlanta’s 40-24 victory on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, the first game for Gonzalez against Kansas City since a 2009 trade sent him to the Falcons.

Gonzalez, who for years has punctuated most of his first 95 touchdown catches by slam-dunking the ball as a nod to his college basketball background, hesitated until Ryan ordered him to do so.

“Honestly, I wasn’t going to dunk it,” Gonzalez said. “The ball went flying out of there, and Matt comes up to me and puts it my chest, and said, ‘Go dunk that ball!’ So I went up there and dunked it.”

The crowd of 71,180, which had warmly welcomed Gonzalez at the start of the game, didn’t appreciate it.

“I heard the boos,” Gonzalez said, “but I want all the fans to know, it wasn’t a disrespectful thing, it was just something … that’s me, this is where I made my bones coming up in this league, and definitely I wanted to be true to myself and go up there and dunk it.”

Ryan thought it wouldn’t have been right had Gonzalez not dunked the ball, considering he spent spent 1997-2008 in Kansas City and became the NFL’s all-time leader for receptions, yards and touchdowns for a tight end while with the Chiefs.

“It was a great moment, not only for him personally, but for Kansas City fans, too,” Ryan said. “He is such a great part of this organization, probably the greatest tight end to have ever played the game. I think deep down in their hearts, Kansas City fans probably loved seeing that one more time, and it was just fun to be a part of it.”

Gonzalez’s touchdown gave the Falcons an insurmountable 34-17 lead. He caught five passes for 53 yards and nearly scored at the end of the second quarter when he caught a short pass, ran over safety Abram Elam and rumbled 25 yards before he was caught from behind at the 3 by Jacques Reeves.

But after the Falcons sacked Matt Cassel and recovered a fumble at the Chiefs’ 7, Ryan called Gonzalez’s number. Gonzalez worked his way past Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson and caught his last pass of the day and 1,154th of his career, which ranks second all-time to Jerry Rice’s 1,549 receptions.

“I’ve gone against Derrick Johnson a bunch in practice, and he had me pretty well hemmed up,” Gonzalez said. “But Matt threw the ball perfect, and I was able to get in there …”

The touchdown capped an emotional weekend for Gonzalez, the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick in 1997 and face of the franchise through the 2000s until he asked for a trade when the club changed management and coaching staff in 2009.

He met several former teammates for dinner at Capital Grille on the Country Club Plaza on Saturday night and visited some of his old haunts.

“I went back to my old place, my old condo and took pictures in front of it,” Gonzalez said. “It’s been like a homecoming for me.”

Gonzalez couldn’t wait on Sunday morning to get to the stadium where he created so many memories for so many fans and himself.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him come over on the early bus, and he came over on the early bus today,” Ryan said. “I can’t even imagine what it would be like for him … but it was fun to see it from a spectator’s point of view like I did.”

The Falcons players were surprised to see that four years later so many Chiefs fans were still wearing red Gonzalez 88 jerseys.

“All my teammates were saying, ‘Look at all those jerseys here, it’s like a home game for you,’ ” Gonzalez said. “They probably wanted the Chiefs to win, but I’m very happy with what I saw out there. There is nothing better than a Kansas City Chiefs fan. There are so many die-hards. It’s just a special feeling to come home like this.”

Gonzalez was most touched when the Chiefs welcomed him back with his photo and some career accomplishments on the video board.

“When they came out and said, the Hunt family wants to welcome me back, and the crowd made all the noise …” said Gonzalez, who blew kisses to the crowd. “Words, I don’t know if I’ll do them justice by even describing it.”

Gonzalez, though, knows where his bread is buttered now. So after the game, he ordered enough barbeque from LC’s to feed a football team on the flight home.

“A lot of stuff I don’t eat,” said Gonzalez, a vegetarian. “Ribs, burnt ends, pulled pork, and sliced turkey for me on the side.”

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"Ryan made me do it!!!!"

That was my favorite part of the celebration, Ryan picking the ball up and jamming it in Tony's chest and even celebrating himself as he went off the field. Normally Matt would just trot off. I love the new Matt so far. An edgier version of the QB we all enjoy.

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That was my favorite part of the celebration, Ryan picking the ball up and jamming it in Tony's chest and even celebrating himself as he went off the field. Normally Matt would just trot off. I love the new Matt so far. An edgier version of the QB we all enjoy.

Agreed, the spike after his TD Run was a perfect competitive move to make after the Chiefs started to get hot headed.

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Imagine Jamal Anderson #32 signing with another team then coming back and doing the dirty bird after a game deciding TD. Ya most fans wouldn't appreciate that.

Not the same at all. The Dirty bird was a play on our team name/nickname. Tony G dunking is an individual celebration. Now if his signature celebration as a chief was slapping his mouth with his hand and dancing like a native american (No racist), then did it yesterday, I could see your point.

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Gonzalez was most touched when the Chiefs welcomed him back with his photo and some career accomplishments on the video board

Kudos to the Kansas City chiefs organization for honoring Tony like that.

And kudos to the fans for cheering him at the start.

Tony is a class act and it.seems like they are too.

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