As a player, Tony Gonzalez had an interesting relationship with Bart Scott – one that involved silence, talking, and threats of violence.
And now? Now the two will be co-workers on The NFL Today.
“When I found out I was going to be working with Bart – he already knows this, so he knows what I’m about to say,” Gonzalez said on The MoJo Show, for which Scott was filling in as co-host Tuesday. “When I played against Bart, the first time I hardly heard a peep out of him when he was with the Baltimore Ravens. And then we played against him when he was with the Jets – and I’m not exaggerating here – he would not shut up the whole game. Even after the game, he was threatening all of us that he was going to come fight us after the game. I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ And now you can see why he’s doing what he does for a living – because he loves to talk. And I’m glad to be working with him.”
Gonzalez said preparing for a show is like learning a playbook; just as you need to know which routes to run, you need to know what you’re talking about.
“It’s a learning curve, but I’ve had a good time so far,” Gonzalez said, “I’m looking forward to it.”
Or put another way, “Can’t wait, Bart.”
So, Tony, who’s your surprise team this year?
“I would say the Falcons, but just to mix it up a little bit, I’m going to go with another team that I’m pretty familiar with – and that’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Gonzalez said. “They’re a dark horse. I’m not saying they’re going to win the Super Bowl this year, but I think with what they’ve done with Josh McCown coming over there to go with Vincent Jackson, (Mike) Evans – a big-time rookie – I think offensively they are going to be real good with Doug Martin in the backfield.”
Defensively, Tampa Bay will lean on linebacker Lavonte David, who finished with a team-high 145 tackles last year, and defensive tackle Geralrd McCoy, who finished with a team-high 9.5 sacks. Gonzalez called them “one of the best defensive line/linebacker duos in the league.”
“I expect big things out of them,” Gonzalez said. “They’re going to be a lot better than the three wins they won last year. They’re going to win a lot more than that this year.”
New head coach Lovie Smith hopes to improve a Buccaneers pass defense that ranked dead last in football last year – and he’ll have to do so with the NFL continuing to crack down on secondaries. Will refs really call as many penalties during the season as they did during the preseason?
“Well, if it goes according to what they’ve been saying, they’re going to keep calling them,” Gonzalez said. “Obviously the NFL wants this emphasized, and this comes from the competition committee. It is an offensive league. That’s been the trend in the NFL for a long time. The players are going to have to get used to this new rule. I think they should. If that’s the rule, and if a guy is going out there and he wants to hold people, then call it. They’ll adjust.”
Gonzalez compared this new point of emphasis to illegal hits to the head.
“When I came into the league, that was part of the game,” he said. “You want to knock the guys helmet off if you could. Guys had a hard time adjusting to that, and they’re starting to adjust to it. They’re getting comfortable with it, and that’s what you’re going to see this year – because I think they’re going to keep calling it.”