Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez Wants To Help T.J. Hockenson

Will Hockenson take him up on the offer?

97.1 The Ticket
January 29, 2020 - 2:24 pm
Tony Gonzalez

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More than anyone in the history of the game, Tony Gonzalez knows what it means to dominate at tight end. 

All he did over his 17-year career was make 14 Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams. And Gonzalez sees similar potential in Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson. 

“He can be an All-Pro, no doubt about it,” Gonzalez said Tuesday, via the Free Press. "Get him in the right system, he can be an All-Pro."

Hockenson flashed some of that potential after the Lions took him eighth overall in last year's draft. On the heels of a dominant performance in training camp and a historic debut in Week 1, he look poised to take the NFL by storm. Then history caught up to him.  

What Was Cost For Lions Of Drafting Hockenson Eighth Overall?

He wound up with 32 catches for 367 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. Gonzalez's numbers as a rookie: 33 catches for 368 yards and two touchdowns (in 16 games). Even the greatest tight end of all time faced a learning curve. 

As Hockenson enters a crucial second season, Gonzalez wants to help him take the next step. 

“He’s off to such a great start. You just got to keep taking it to that next level and you got to keep challenging him. And hopefully I’ll get a chance to talk to him," Gonzalez said. "I talked to all these tight ends, young tight ends in the league, so if you do see him, tell him to reach out to me because to me that’s what separates the good ones from the great ones.

“He’s going to be a good one no matter what. That’s out of the way. It’s like how great do you want to be? And that starts right here and here (in the head and heart). It has nothing to do with what you’re doing on the football field. All that will come, it’s just you got to get your mind and your heart right.”

Searching For Hope For T.J. Hockenson

If Hockenson can emerge as one of the best players at his position, the Lions stand to benefit immensely. Look no further than this year's Super Bowl for proof. The Chiefs and 49ers have arguably the top two tight ends in the game in Travis Kelce and George Kittle. The Patriots won it all last year with Rob Gronkowski, and the Eagles won the year before that with Zach Ertz. 

It should be further motivation for Hockenson to realize his potential. 

"The luxury of these tight ends that you’re seeing, when I was coming up you didn’t see too much of that receiving-type tight end, being so involved in the offense. So for him to see guys like Kelce and Kittle in this game, he’s got to be inspired," said Gonzalez. "And watching his ability, he’s a baller. Like, he is on his way to having an outstanding career.”