Level Up: Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez Talks About His New Podcast, Wide Open
There’s only a few hours to go before Tony Gonzalez boards a long flight with his family to enjoy a few weeks exploring Amsterdam, Croatia, Portugal, and more. The first leg of the trip, he’ll be attending MindValley, a collective of seminars, speakers and workshops based on the teachings from Vishen Lakhiani’s New York Times bestselling book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. It’s some much needed downtime after the amazing, crazy year the former football tight end has had.
Tony, who is notably con sidered the greatest tight end of all-time, was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame in February 2019 —his first year of eligibility. “David Baker, this 6’7, 400-pound guy comes around to deliver the news. You either get a knock at the door or you get a call that you didn’t make it. They put all of the nominees up in a hotel and you then wait to see what happens. I saw him [David] coming around the corner. My kids were on FaceTime. My cousin Dennis was there. And I started dancing. A lot of guys cry. I didn’t cry, but you start to reflect a little bit on all of the things that could’ve happened and you think about your career. I’m so thankful. I just feel so much joy.”
Growing up in Huntington Beach, California, he would go on to play college basketball and football at The University of California Berkeley before getting drafted in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he played for 12 seasons. After that, he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons, where he continued to play for another five seasons. A fourteen time Pro Bowl selection, Tony currently holds the NFL record for career receiving yards (15,127) by a tight end. He also is second all-time in receptions with 1,325, trailing only Jerry Rice.
Now that he’s off the field, Tony wants to continue to reinvent himself in other ways. He’s currently an analyst of the NFL’s pregame show and has a podcast Wide Open, that will be debuting later this summer. “I love being around the guys on the pregame show. It keeps me around football and it’s very similar to playing. It’s a performance. When the red light comes on, you know millions of people are watching. You can’t just show up and do well. It’s a process. But I enjoy the hell out of it!”
Wide Open will highlight the stories of all people and the greatness of whatever it is they’re doing —chefs, athletes, actors, scientists— and talk in-depth about the pivotal moments that brought them success. “In my second year in the NFL, I dropped 16 balls and got benched twice. You always do the most learning in the hardest times in your life. I was bullied as a kid pretty badly. It’s one of the moments in life that gave me grit and edge. Shit happens, that’s why it’s a bumper sticker,” he laughs. “So I wanted to hear other peoples’ stories and understand how they achieved the success they did.”
Inspiration for the podcast came simply from Tony’s day-to-day life, which includes reading lots of books and soaking up copious knowledge. “I read coaching biographies, from biographies on Jerry Rice, Michael Jordan, etc. I like reading about Oprah, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln —the list goes on. I’m reading all the time. I’m also really interested in health and nutrition, and how the mind works. So getting these kinds of people, with their own stories and journeys on the podcast is really cool.”
In 2009, Tony co-authored the book, The All-Pro Diet, which details his diet and workout routine and provides practical suggestions for others to follow the same path. Later that year, he also co-founded All-Pro Science, a sports nutrition company that manufactures a complete line of protein shakes, vitamins, and other supplements. The products in the APS line mirror the philosophy that he speaks to in his book, focusing on a balance of foods from all-natural sources.
From 2013 to 2017, Tony worked with FitStar, a company that makes mobile fitness apps, helping people get in shape with customized workouts delivered via iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. To say he has kept pretty busy is an understatement. When he does have downtime, you can find him spending time with his partner October and his four children. “Being a parent and a husband, doing a little bit of acting, this podcast… all of it makes me excited. You always want to keep leveling up and the moment is now. I love the people that put themselves out there. Right now, I’m reading a book on negotiation,” he says with a laugh. “It’s never enough for me. I want to always be expanding.”