Busy Gonzalez wants new contract signed with KC


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Jan 22, 2006
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Busy Gonzalez wants new contract signed with KC

By Rick Dean
The Capital-Journal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The first practice of the Chiefs' recent mini-camp had just ended when team president Carl Peterson sought out Tony Gonzalez. The two men talked amicably for maybe 10 minutes as reporters watched from a distance and speculated on the topic.

Were they discussing the new contract Gonzalez would like to have before beginning this final season of his current deal? Or were they merely exchanging recipes?

Gonzalez grinned when asked about the second option. He's still getting dogged about his participation in a TV celebrity cook-off competition in which he was the first guest chef voted out of the kitchen.

"I'm glad, too,'' said Gonzalez, whose vodka penne got as lukewarm a reception as the lightly viewed TV show received. "It might have been self-sabotage.''

The seven-time Pro Bowl tight end tried to similarly blow off his impending contract negotiation with the Chiefs, who would like to sign the just-turned-30 Gonzalez to a deal that would allow him to end his career in Kansas City.
Gonzalez says he wants that, too. But, as is the case with all business deals, the financial terms must add up properly for both parties.

"Technically, Carl doesn't have to do anything now unless he wants to, but I would prefer to get it done now,'' he said. "I'd like to go into the season with peace of mind.

"Besides, I don't want to go anywhere. I've been here 10 years. Why would I want to go anywhere else now?''

That sounds good, all right, and Chiefs fans welcome the sentiment.

Still, it's hardly a secret that Gonzalez spends little of his offseason in Kansas City. It's less of a secret that the Chiefs wish he'd spend more here in off-season conditioning with his teammates.

But Gonzalez remains a southern California guy at heart, embracing all that entails. One of Kansas City's most visible sports celebrities, especially among the Latin population, the LA native has visited places as diverse as Guatemala and the Dominican Republic this offseason.

His jet-set lifestyle saw him touching down in Kansas City briefly for the May mini-camp. His participation during the four practices was limited to individual drills only. Gonzalez was held out of 7-on-7 and team drills so as not to aggravate the foot injury that still bothers him, much as it has for the past several seasons.

His work in KC completed, Gonzalez was scheduled to fly to Barcelona to participate in the Laureus Sports Awards, a celebrity-packed ceremony that saw him sharing a table a year ago with actors Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson.

"It's a huge charity event, and I'm basically hanging out there,'' Gonzalez said.

To some, his offseason schedule makes Gonzalez seem less interested than he proclaims to be in coming back from a 2005 season in which he caught only two touchdowns passes -- his lowest count since his first two pro seasons.

But, there are two points people need to understand about Tony Gonzalez. One, he will always drive in the fast lane. Two, he knows football provides the means to do that.

"It's about finding balance in your life,'' he said. "It's still all about the work. Even if I'm in a hotel someplace, I'll always get my workout in first. I know where my bread is buttered. I'm a football player first. But the other stuff are the experiences in life you want to enjoy.''

We'll ignore the food reference and note instead that Gonzalez is excited by what he's seen from new coach Herm Edwards and his staff.

He loves the promise of shorter practices. "That might have been my biggest complaint about coach Vermeil -- his long practices,'' he said. "Change can be good, especially when you install a new routine.''

Moreover, Gonzalez he believes that new offensive coordinator Mike Solari, the former offensive line coach, is a kindred spirit who will look for a tight end in scoring zone situations.

"As soon as he got the job, I flew back here to meet with (Solari) and coach (Jon) Embree, my new position coach. He asked me straight-up what routes I thought worked best, and he said he'd get them called. We'll see what happens, but I have no doubt that he'll get me the ball.''

Preferably, in this country.

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