We live in a world of instant gratification. We want to see the finished results before the work is done, whether it’s a computer-generated vision of our remodeled home (to see how the new paint colors will work with new furniture) or how our bodies and faces will look after a little nip and tuck.
Well, Sunday night, football fans will get to see both the before and after on display when the Atlanta Falcons meet the Green Bay Packers. Think of it as a chance to see Michelangelo’s David and the block of marble.
Tony Gonzalez, a chiseled 6’5″ 243 pounds in his 15th season out of the University of California, is the best modern day tight end ever – with all due respect to the late John Mackey and Iron Mike Ditka. In today’s pass-happy NFL, no tight end has amassed epic numbers like Gonzalez: 1,090 receptions, 12,692 yards and 92 touchdowns. And sure-handed and graceful as ever.
Gonzalez isn’t just hanging around in his 15th year – he’s 4th in the NFL for receptions by a tight end! And he’s no worse for the wear either: when you see Gonzalez in his t-shirt during pregame warm-ups, the comparisons to the David are easy to see, and he can still stretch the defense and exploit the holes in zone coverage.
That brings us to the block of marble: Jermichael Finley, 6’5″ 247 pounds out of the University of Texas. Finley’s three-touchdown performance two weeks ago against the Bears made NFL-watchers sit up and take notice (and fantasy players very, very happy). Finley is more wide receiver than tight end, and I mean that as a pure compliment. He’s only played 36 games and recorded just 100 receptions, but to the trained eye, he is a treasured art piece in the making. Maybe not worthy of a place on a pedestal just yet, but give it time and you’ll watch it grow in value.
No doubt, Gonzalez will have his bust in Pro Football’s gallery (Hint: It’s located in Canton, Ohio). With continued growth and good health, Finley could find himself on display there one day too.
– James Lofton
James Lofton is pulling double duty for Westwood One this weekend. He’ll be in Blacksburg on Saturday for Miami-Virginia Tech, the travel to Atlanta for Sunday Night Football between the Falcons and the Packers. Coverage begins at 7:30 PM Eastern on Westwood One.