KAPOLEI, Hawaii – Tony Gonzalez has gone from one tropical paradise to another over the past week. With apologies to Jimmy Buffett, no matter how much Gonzalez changes his longitude or latitude, it's not really changing his attitude.
Barring a serious change in direction, Gonzalez still wants out of Kansas City – even more so if the Chiefs bring in a college coach, such as Kirk Ferentz of Iowa. Aside from Ferentz, the Chiefs are expected to interview Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Chiefs offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
Speaking in the dressing room of the players' hotel Tuesday, Gonzalez said he expects to hear of a decision about Kansas City's next coach by Thursday. The 12-year veteran tight end and Pro Bowl regular restated his basic desire to go elsewhere, the week after spending time in Tampa in advance of the Super Bowl. Gonzalez is hoping to finish his career with an appearance of his own in the title game; he has appeared in the playoffs only three times in his career, losing each time.
And with all due respect to the Kansas City Chiefs, the only team he has played for, Gonzalez has serious doubts the Chiefs are going to give him that chance anytime soon.
"You never know, and that's the thing about the NFL right now," Gonzalez said when it was pointed out to him that defensive end Jason Taylor made the same push last offseason only to see the team he left [Miami] go to the playoffs and the team he joined [Washington] not make it.
"You can go from being really bad one year and all of a sudden be really good the next year. So you have to factor that in. We have a young football team that could be really good out there in Kansas City. Now, the question is, are they going to make it to a Super Bowl? Like with Jason [Taylor], even if he'd have stayed in Miami, yeah, you could be good. But I don't care about being good. I want to be great. I want to win a Super Bowl."
Gonzalez's desire for a deal follows his push in October for a trade – an effort thwarted when then-Chiefs president Carl Peterson refused to make the deal, leaving Gonzalez incensed. Even the departure of Peterson and the arrival of Scott Pioli from New England hasn't quelled Gonzalez's angst.
Still, he did seem mildly interested in Haley or Gailey.
"I want to see who they name as head coach," Gonzalez said. "Yeah, I hear they're talking to Todd Haley, but then there's this coach [Ferentz] from Iowa State, some [expletive] like that and I don't want to deal with that. It seems like we're rebuilding anyway, and I don't want to do that. I don't know that I want to do that any more than I already have been."
So Gonzalez seems far more interested in a future elsewhere, even if it would be somewhat bittersweet. He said he hadn't yet talked to Pioli or team owner Clark Hunt but said he wants to be careful about how he proceeds. He has been frustrated with not only the team's results but also moves such as trading defensive end Jared Allen, who is playing on the NFC Pro Bowl team this week.
"I love Kansas City. I really do. If I could stay there, I would. That's why this is going to be a tough decision," Gonzalez said. "We've been rebuilding. It hasn't really seemed to go well. We won four [in 2007] and two this year. It's getting tough. … I don't want to make it seem to the fans in Kansas City and to my teammates that I'm abandoning them. I hope, I think, they'll understand."
And if Gonzalez gets his wish of a new home, he might not be alone, as teammate Larry Johnson also reportedly desires to leave the Chiefs – who, according to Gonzalez, aren't making it easy for some players to want to stay.
"We traded away our best defensive player [Allen], by far. A game changer and you trade him away," Gonzalez said. That's just too much, and that's sending a message to the guys on the team."
- Todd Haley