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Tony Gonzalez is arguably the greatest tight end to ever grace a football field. Gonzalez set records at the position during his 17 seasons in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, catching the most passes (1,325) and recording the most receiving yards (15,127) for a tight end in NFL history. Gonzalez is third in NFL history in receptions and sixth in receiving yards. His 111 receiving touchdowns trail only Antonio Gates (116) for the most ever by a tight end.  

A 14-time Pro Bowl selection and first ballot Hall of Famer, Gonzalez is one of the greatest players in NFL history -- and knows a thing or two about tight ends. In a one-on-one interview with CBS Sports, Gonzalez previews the 2021 Atlanta Falcons season and gives his thoughts on a few of the NFL's tight ends as the 2021 season is set to begin. 

I wanted to start by touching base about the Falcons this year. What do you like about Arthur Smith and what he brings to this team?

Gonzalez: "I love his creativity, his imagination. You can see that when he was out there in Tennessee. He set the tone there and is not afraid to make the unpopular decisions that aren't going to make the fans happy and maybe some of the players on the team. 

"When you come in and trade an iconic player, best-of-all-time type guy like Julio Jones, that sends a message 'Hey I'm going to do it my way' and we're going to go out there and I have a formula for success -- and this is how we're going to do it. You have to do that as a coach.

"I love his personality. I've always been into those coaches that are never too high and never too low. Bill Belichick is a great example of that. I think he's got that perfect demeanor to be a head football coach. He's earned his stripes. 

"I like him a lot. I think the Falcons are going to be really, really good for a long time with him."

You caught passes from Matt Ryan for five years. In my opinion, he's still playing at a high level. What makes Ryan that good this late in his career? 

Gonzalez: "Matt, I think is underrated, honestly. Through his first 13 years he's had more yards than any other quarterback. The guy can flat out sling it, but I love his preparation process. He's competitive as hell -- as any athlete out there -- and he wants to win. You can have all those yards, but he's perfectly content with throwing the ball for 100 yards as long as he gets the win. 

"I think big things are coming with Matt, especially with Arthur Smith coming there. I think Matt's going to benefit the most. By the way, they got a hell of a tight end in that first round. Julio's gone, but if Pitts can reach that potential with Calvin Ridley with him -- Matt's going to have a hell of a year." 

You led right into my next question with Kyle Pitts. What do you think he has to do to reach that Tony Gonzalez level of performance? 

Gonzalez: "Just work (laughing). That's the blueprint. Michael Jordan, Julio Jones, Tom Brady, LeBron James. These guys just go to work every single day. Go out there before practice and catch some balls. When the defense is going 7-on-7, go catch some more balls -- don't take a knee. After practice, catch some more balls and watch the film. Just be obsessed with being the best player you can be. 

"Be self reflective. When you go home, don't remember how great you did. Try to see what you got wrong and correct it. Think about that when you go home at night. You can't ever turn it off and you can't ever think that you arrived. 

"If he does that, and he stays healthy -- the sky's the limit. He'll be an All-Pro tight end for a long time. He'll set records. He'll do incredible stuff. I watched a preseason game where he caught a flat route and took it up the sideline and I was like 'Oh my gosh, this kid's special.' He can be right up there with George Kittle and Travis kelce very soon. It might take him a year or two, but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets close to that by the end of the season. 

"I see big things coming from him -- and he's got Matt Ryan. This guy is just a faster, more athletic version than me -- and I was pretty damn athletic. They can line him up there and throw him the ball -- he's going to go get it. He's going to be fun to watch." 

A lot of people have been trying to tell me Travis Kelce is heading for a downturn. I don't see how, but he is 31. Is it even possible see him slowing down in his 30s? He's in the prime of his career right?

Gonzalez: "Hey, I played until I was 37! I was a Pro Bowler my last year in the league and made First Team All-Pro at 36! Age doesn't even mean a thing to me. It's a mental thing. 

"From what I know about Travis, he's a competitive dude. He's got Patrick Mahomes, he's got Andy Reid, he's got Tyreek Hill to make the defense stay off you and he gets to operate 1-on-1. There is no way (he'll decline). He's got another five years of top quality football in him -- that's if he wants to. 

"He has a Hall of Fame type of career already and I think he's going to put a nice bow on that over these next three or four years. He'll go down in that argument as the best tight end ever, with me, Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) and all these other guys that have played before me and after me. 

"He'll be right in that conversation with all of us playing another couple of seasons." 

Zach Ertz had a bad year last year, which was very un-Zach Ertz like. I love how the Eagles kept him around for this year. Do you feel Ertz can have that bounce-back year, or what does he have to do to get back to that Ertz-type level of production we're used to seeing?

Gonzalez: "I love Zach too. He's one of the most underrated tight ends in the league, maybe even ever. The production that he's put up -- no one ever really mentions him when you say 'top tight end.' And I've done it myself. I don't know why he gets forgotten and I don't want to forget him. 

"He's athletic. He's got great hands. He's a catching machine. The Eagles would be foolish not to use him like they had in the past. From what I heard, he's had an incredible camp. He's like that toy you used to love, but then you put it in the closet and take it back out and say 'Man I actually really like this toy!' I hope they dust him off and start using him again like they used to. 

"Zach is a hell of a talent. He's fast, he runs great routes, and he really, really works his a-- off. I'm a big believer in Zach. You work your a-- off like he does, everything will take care of itself."

*Gonzalez is supporting TiVo Stream 4K, which works on any TV with an HDMI connection and matches perfectly with NFL Sunday Ticket. You can find out more about TiVo Stream 4K here

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