Shortly before the Chiefs’ 23-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 25, former Chiefs star Tony Gonzalez allowed himself to think about the future.
Gonzalez was down on the field before the game, banging the team’s huge ceremonial drum, when he looked up at the Ring of Honor that surrounds the interior lining of the stadium.
“I was seeing all the names up there of guys I’d played with, thinking you know what, maybe one day my name will be up there, too,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, to be sure, was just being modest. There’s no “maybe” about it. Forty-five players have been inducted into the Chiefs’ Ring of Honor. Among them, only Will Shields has been to more Pro Bowls (12) as a member of the Chiefs than Gonzalez (10). And just three — linebacker Bobby Bell, tackle Jim Tyrer and safety Johnny Robinson — have received more all-pro nods (six) as Chiefs than Gonzalez’s five.
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“I think Tony is one of those guys that you can say he’ll be a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer, so it would be hard to believe he wouldn’t be a first-ballot Chiefs Hall of Famer,” team chairman Clark Hunt said.
Hunt said there is a confidential committee — which includes Hunt and some Chiefs Hall of Famers — that decides which former Chief will be inducted into the Ring of Honor each season. Hunt said that players typically must be retired for five years to be inducted; Gonzalez has been retired for two.
There was a time when Gonzalez, who spent the last five years of his 17-year career with the Atlanta Falcons after being drafted in the first round by the Chiefs in 1997, thought he might get to finish his career in KC.
During the 2013 season, the Falcons were terrible while the Chiefs were on their way to the playoffs. He remembers hearing some chatter about a potential trade to the Chiefs around the trade deadline. It never happened, and that was his final season in the NFL.
“I don’t know how close it was, but I remember our season was over with Atlanta … and I heard rumors — because Kansas City was making a playoff run at that point — that I’d go there,” Gonzalez said. “Because Atlanta, it was over. We weren’t going to the playoffs at that point; we’d only won one or two games. So yeah, it came close, but it didn’t happen.
“But I’ll still be back in Kansas City anyway.”
Whenever his Ring of Honor ceremony happens, the 39-year-old will be looking forward to it.
“That would be a pretty cool feeling,” Gonzalez said. “I can’t wait.”