Redskins

Falcons TE Gonzalez still considering retirement

Falcons TE Gonzalez still considering retirement

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Tony Gonzalez is still 95 percent sure he will retire at the end of the season.

Just don't try to pigeonhole the 13-time Pro Bowl tight end into giving more information about his future - no matter how many light years away.

``I see what you're trying to do,'' Gonzalez said with a smile Thursday. ``Jedi mind trick.''

Gonzalez and the Atlanta Falcons are trying to stay on task this week.

As the NFC's No. 1 seed, the Falcons want to end the regular season with a victory Sunday over Tampa Bay and then use next week's bye to get ready for a divisional round home game the weekend of Jan. 12-13.

Gonzalez said he isn't letting outside distractions take away from his or the team's preparation.

``This is why we do what we do, to be in this kind of position,'' he said. ``It's important we go out and play well, finish the season strong and take it on to the playoffs. That's where we've got to be at our best, and I feel like our team is getting to that point.''

At 36, Gonzalez continues to make enough big plays that he was voted to his third straight Pro Bowl in four seasons with the Falcons. He moved into second place on the career receptions list last season - and now has 1,237 - and is the most decorated tight end in NFL history, ranking first at the position and sixth overall with 103 touchdown catches. At 14,227 yards, he's seventh on the career receiving list.

Gonzalez's physique, work ethic and preparation have factored into helping him thrive for 16 seasons, the first 12 of which he spent with Kansas City.

Though this week's Pro Bowl announcement hardly caught him by surprise, Gonzalez indicated that this bid felt special.

``The older you get, the more people start to doubt you,'' he said. ``Just because it's human nature. You are getting old, (and) there is no way you can move around like you used to. I've been hearing, `Oh, he's lost a step. He's not as fast as he used to be.' It's nice to go out there and play well and tell them, `What do you got to say now?' That's part of the fun - proving people wrong.''

To Falcons coach Mike Smith, Gonzalez still appears strong and healthy enough to play another two or three seasons and add to his Pro Bowl total.

``He's beating Father Time,'' Smith said. ``He's shutting him out. He's playing at a very high level right now.''

As it's been since the Chiefs drafted him 13th overall in 1997, opponents struggle to defend the 6-foot-5, 247-pound Southern California native in man-to-man coverage because linebackers usually lack the speed and defensive backs lack the size to disrupt his routes.

In last week's win at Detroit, Gonzalez caught just one pass, but that's mostly because the Lions decided to put two men on him and use their cornerbacks in single coverage against Roddy White and Julio Jones.

White and Jones combined for 15 catches, 224 yards receiving and three touchdowns, big numbers that Gonzalez credits not only to Atlanta's wideout tandem but also to quarterback Matt Ryan's ability to read coverages accurately and check down to more manageable options before the snap.

Gonzalez believes there's a good reason the Falcons rank fifth in passing, second in third-down efficiency and fifth in scoring average.

``The most important thing you can have with a quarterback is timing and anticipation,'' he said. ``He knows where I'm going to go before I go sometimes. And I kind of know what he's thinking as well and we work off each other, and it's a beautiful thing when it's going in the right direction.''

Smith appreciates Gonzalez's willingness to do whatever coaches ask of him. Such was the case last week when Ryan threw a screen pass to the left side for White, who outran the coverage for a 39-yard touchdown, but not before Gonzalez and left tackle Sam Baker held blocks to create space.

``Tony was the one who got it started, and Sam was cleaning up in the alley,'' Smith said. ``Once we got those two blocks, Roddy did the rest and did a nice job of running down the sideline.''

For all of Gonzalez's impressive career numbers, his ability to avoid fumbles has taken on a legend of its own. He hasn't fumbled since Week 16 of 2006, and the last time he lost a fumble was in Week 5 of 1999 - a span of 217 straight games and 1,126 receptions.

``It probably will get noted for Hall of Fame stuff when they start talking about Tony being inducted,'' Smith said. ``His statistics are unbelievable. Touchdown catches, number of catches, what he does after he catches the ball. He's done a great job, and I think a lot of it is the work he does out on the practice field.''

Gonzalez is just pleased that he's reached Week 17 for what could be the final regular season game of his career.

Winning a Super Bowl is all that matters, particularly for a respected veteran still looking for his first career playoff victory.

Just don't ask him about coming back next season.

``Let's finish this year,'' he said, ``and hopefully get that Super Bowl ring.''

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Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': You'll absolutely love this Ron Rivera halftime speech

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Amazon Prime

Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': You'll absolutely love this Ron Rivera halftime speech

Pete Hailey is rewatching Amazon's All Or Nothing, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 Panthers, to learn about Ron Rivera and other key people who are now a part of the Redskins. Here's his review of episode five, "It Happens."

The first four episodes of 2018's All Or Nothing, which closely followed Ron Rivera's Panthers from the start of the season to the end, have led to thoughtful reviews about the coach's steady leadership and how he believes in building confidence in his young players.

This review, however, is going to be simpler than the previous installments. In fact, it'd be difficult to get much simpler, honestly.

That's because the climax of the fifth episode involves Rivera ripping into his team at halftime, and the ripping goes on for 60 straight and intense seconds, and few things are cooler than getting access inside of a locker room where this level of ripping is occuring, so this story exists just to highlight the ripping.

The reason Rivera goes off on the Panthers is because of a very poor first half on the road against the Steelers. Carolina went into Pittsburgh hoping to make a statement on prime time, but instead, they got worked to the tune of a 31-14 deficit through two quarters.

So, Rivera lets his guys have it. First, he addresses corner Donte Jackson, who was losing his one-on-one battle with Antonio Brown. After that, he goes in on everyone else. Here's a transcript of it all (pretty much every sentence could have an exclamation point at the end of it, by the way, so read this in your best yelling voice):

Don't lose your mind. Don't let him get inside your head. You got just as much skill and ability as anybody on that damn field. You don't let that (redacted) push you around. You're too good, but you've got to keep your mind in the game and stay focused, all right? Don't let him get to you. You are too good of a football player to worry about (redacted) like that, all right? You go out and do your job.

Now, the rest of you (redacted), the same thing. The only thing they've gotten on us has been what? Two (redacted) long passes. You have to challenge these (redacted) guys. You can't sit there and accept it. This is their (redacted) history. This is who the (redacted) they are. They expect you guys to (redacted) roll over. You can't. You've got to defy them and challenge their (redacted). You've got to hit the (redacted) (redacted) center in his (redacted) mouth. That's how you beat these (redacted) teams. These (redacted) teams come out because they think they've got (redacted). And they challenge your (redacted). Well (redacted) them. Challenge them back. Find out what they're really made of. 

While All Or Nothing is a produced show, Rivera's passionate speech wasn't followed by a made-for-TV comeback. In fact, the second half was worse than the first, with the Panthers losing the contest 52-21. That said, the rant was 1) still compelling as (redacted) and 2) a look at a side of the 58-year-old Redskins fans obviously haven't seen yet.

Since taking over the Burgundy and Gold in January, Rivera gave an introductory press conference that featured only hints of his competitive nature. After that day, he's done plenty of other interviews, but they've been fairly typical or even lighter conversations.

The version of Ron that lit up the Panthers that night in 2018 will probably only show up from late-summer to late-winter or so, when meaningful practices and games are taking place. Until then, the calm and thoughtful (though still serious) vibes he's given off so far with the Redskins when behind a microphone or on-camera should continue.

However, as episode five of Amazon's project highlighted, Rivera's not afraid to turn the dial up so much it snaps off in his hand. 

In recent years, big-name Washington players like Adrian Peterson and Jonathan Allen have made it clear that they didn't like how easygoing Redskins Park felt at times, specifically when the results on the field suggested a need for more accountability and discipline.

When watching Rivera sound off on his old team, it was hard not to think how that approach will be more than welcome on his new team.

Here is a link to the uncensored speech. If around family, you may want to put some headphones in before watching.

Links to past reviews:

Episode 1: Rivera doesn't flinch after adversity hits

Episode 2: Rivera shows his feelings on distractions

Episode 3: Special teams truly mean something to Ron

Episode 4: Young Redskins will have a chance in 2020

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This date in Wizards history: Kobe Bryant scores 55 in last matchup with Michael Jordan

This date in Wizards history: Kobe Bryant scores 55 in last matchup with Michael Jordan

With the NBA season suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Wizards, or any team for that matter, are currently unable to make their mark on the NBA history books. 

So on this day, March 28th, we roll the clocks back 17 years to a major moment in not only Wizards history, but in NBA history as well. The final meeting between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. 

2003 was Jordan's second season in Washington and his last in a legendary 15-year career where he won six championships, five MVPs, 10 scoring titles and nine All-Defensive selections.

If anyone came close to being the next MJ, it was Bryant. By their final meeting, the 24-year-old prodigy already had three titles and more than enough reason to put on a show against his idol. 

Bryant went for 55 points against the Wizards, scoring 42 in the first half. He went 15-for-29 from the field and made 9-of-13 from three. Safe to say, Bryant was on a mission following a one-point loss to the Wizards earlier that season. 

He scored an inefficient 27 points on 8-21 shooting and was outplayed by a 40-year-old Jordan. According to Gilbert Arenas, Jordan told Bryant he would never fill his shoes following the loss. In true Bryant fashion, he held onto that moment, apparently didn't talk to his teammates for two weeks leading up to the rematch and took it all out on the Wizards. 

Jordan didn't have a bad game by any stretch. He still scored 23 points on 10-20 shooting to go along with four assists, but he was simply no match for Bryant. 

The Wizards would go on to finish 37-45 miss out on the playoffs and take Jarvis Hayes with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.

The Lakers went for the first run of four-straight titles since Bill Russell's Celtics but fell short in the Western Conference Semifinals to Tim Duncan and the Spurs. They'd return to the Finals the following year only to lose to the Pistons. After that, Shaquille O'Neal was traded to Miami and the Lakers didn't win a championship for another five years. 

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