The 2011 NFL regular season schedule was released on Tuesday. However, it didn’t have the same kind of feel in previous years because there is no guarantee that football will be played in 2011. I still think that games will be played. Number one, there is way too much at stake for all parties involved and number two, if you didn’t notice the majority of the first week’s games will be played on September 11th. Roger Goodell and the owners would look horrible if games weren’t being played on the 10th anniversary of September 11th because they were worried about how to split up money in a nine billion dollar industry. As a fan of the game, I just want to see football in 2011 without any games being missed.
Another guy that wants to see football in 2011 is Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez is winding down a Hall-Of-Fame career and might just have one year left in his body. There is just one thing missing from his tremendous resume and that’s a Super Bowl ring. Atlanta is coming off a 13-3 season and looks like a team poised to make another run, but they can’t do that if there is an extended lockout.
Tony Gonzalez joined KILT in Houston with Josh Innes and Rich Lord to talk about how much it would mean to him to win a playoff game sometime in his career, if Matt Ryan is the best QB he has ever played with, whether or not his plans of coming back this season will be affected by the lockout, how united the players will stand through this, and whether or not he thinks the league will go to an 18 game schedule.
How much it would mean to him to win a playoff game sometime in his career:
“That would certainly help getting a playoff win. With the team we have, obviously we had such high expectations this year and to go 13-3 and getting that first round bye, we thought we had a legitimate shot. But we ran into that buzzsaw called the Green Bay Packers and they came in playing great ball. I think next year we have as good of a shot as any. If I’m ever going to get that monkey off my back it’s going to be this upcoming year because we have the whole team coming back. Guys are going to get better, guys in that year three or four, we’re gonna have a lot of guys like that and even Matt Ryan, probably the most important piece of the puzzle. He’s in his year four, coming off his first Pro Bowl, and this is when you’re really going to see him explode as the player. Obviously the quarterback drives the whole team and makes you successful.”
Whether or not Matt Ryan is the best QB he has ever played with:
“Um I would probably say that at this point. Trent Green was a pretty good one as well, but I think Matt, as far as potential, career, and all that stuff, the sky is the limit with him. There’s no throw he can’t make, workhorse, gym rat kind of guy, he wants to be the best quarterback in the league. I think with the talent that he has around him as well with a guy like Roddy White who is going to play for a long time and Michael Jenkins, the sky is the limit. He can be one of the best before it’s all said and done. Hopefully you’ll start seeing that this year.”
Whether or not the lockout will change his plans on coming back for another year:
“I’m coming back no matter what as long as we have a season this year. I have said it before and I will say it again that if they do have a lockout for the whole season and there is no football played then I probably would go ahead and hang them up. That would be a shame. 99.9 percent believe there’s going to be football this year. It’s just a matter of when. Hopefully they get that deal straightened out soon, but we have to make sure that it’s fair for both sides and we’re working towards that. I hope they’re not that stupid to not get a deal done. That would be a tragedy. Not just for myself. Forget about me. I have played for a long time, but these other young players and most importantly the fans. The fans want football and it would be really incredibly stupid not to be able to come to some type of decision because we can’t figure out how the payout goes of a nine billion dollar industry.”
On how long the players will be united through this lockout:
“I think you can see it for awhile. This isn’t a surprise that this is going on from the player’s perspective. We’ve been preparing for this the last couple of years. They’ve made corrections to make sure we get paid. We have a fund where guys are drawing money during this time. There’s a lockout fund that we have set up for the players. If you’re a player and you haven’t prepared for this and you haven’t set aside money to go through this lockout deal then this is your fault because you knew this was coming. You knew it was coming and you should’ve prepared for it and have been ready for it. I know we will stay united. Also some of the veteran players and the big time guys that are making a lot of money, at least I’m one of them, we’re giving that money back to the guys that need it if there’s a guy that’s in an emergency situation and needs some extra cash go ahead and do that because we are going to stay united on this. I think the owners know that. That’s why I think a deal will get done and something that I think is going to be fair. Right now the deal that has been proposed from the owners is not fair. That’s something that we will keep working towards.”
On the possibility of an 18 game schedule:
“I hope not. I am strongly against that. I think that’s the stupidest thing you could ever do. With the NFL making all their efforts to make the sure the game is safe, cutting down on concussions, player safety, and they have done a great job with it and I commend them for that, but then for them to come back and say oh by the way we want to do all this but we’re going to have an extra two games for the season so that they can make more money. It always comes down to that. So they can make a little more cash to put in their pockets. I think that’s stupid because you’re doing it at the expense of the players. Right now the average career is three and a half years or whatever and that would down the average player’s career right there to two and a half years and by the way you’re vested after three years too so I don’t know if that’s strategy on their part or whatever. I’m not saying that all. That kind of makes you say hmmm. I hope they’re smarter than that. It’s what drives the game. You want to make sure the guys out there on the field. Having an extra few games that’s just crazy that the thought even comes up, that it’s even proposed.”