You can end the rumors about Tony Gonzalez coming back to the Falcons in 2014. He's got a new team in CBS Sports. The mothership announced that Gonzalez, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, will join The NFL Today beginning in 2014.
"Having just stepped off the playing field, Tony brings a fresh and insightful perspective," CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said. "As a future Hall of Famer, we are excited for him to share his knowledge, experiences and opinions with our viewers. Tony was one of the most respected and hardworking players in the NFL and a tremendous teammate.
"We look forward to him bringing these attributes to CBS Sports."
Gonzalez, known for his team-first attitude and heavy preparation, should slide into the role nicely and said he chose CBS because he "felt really comfortable" with the setup.
"I just felt really comfortable with CBS and the team," Gonzalez told CBSSports.com by phone Tuesday. "I felt they wanted me to come work -- I got that sense more so than all the other places I was looking at."
Perhaps overlooked by some was the fact that Gonzalez won't just be on The NFL Today -- he'll also be featured on Inside the NFL and That Other Pregame Show (TOPS). The tight end says he's looking for the challenge of getting to "stretch myself out" and figure out what roles he's best in.
"[I want to] stretch myself out and see what works and what doesn't work," Gonzalez said. Them believing in me and having the confidence because I've obviously never done this before ... I'm humbled by it and thankful for it. They want me to have some experience in this and that and find out what I'm good at. And that's what this process is, seeing what I've got to get good at."
Gonzalez, who will join James Brown, Boomer Esiason and Bill Cowher as the team on The NFL Today, isn't the only move for the show. Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe are departing the Sunday pregame show.
“While we welcome Tony, we want to acknowledge Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe who have contributed greatly to the success of The NFL Today for more than a decade," McManus said. “Dan and Shannon are true Hall of Famers on the field and in front of the camera. As they pursue other professional opportunities, we thank them for their hard work and dedication and wish them nothing but the best."
Gonzalez was widely regarded as a lock to move into a media role of some sort and CBS landed him. Despite plenty of chatter about him possibly returning to the Falcons, when asked if there was any consideration towards coming back to the NFL this year, Gonzalez said "none."
"None. A lot of people are asking about that. This was it. I knew that going into it," Gonzalez said. "And nothing was going to change my mind," Gonzalez said. "I knew I wanted to do something in the television world."
The former Chiefs and Falcons tight end leaves the NFL as the league's all-time leader in touchdowns (111) and yards (15,127) by a tight end. Gonzalez also holds the NFL's record for consecutive starts (120) and Pro-Bowl appearances (14) by a tight end, and is second overall among all players in receptions with 1,325.