Tony's Greatest Play

Tony Gonzalez has caught 841 passes for 10,075 yards and 68 touchdowns in 12 years as a Kansas City Chief. He has caught touchdown passes in the playoffs, made clutch catches late in regular-season games, and on a fairly regular basis, amazed Chiefs fans with almost superhuman efforts from play to play.

But his greatest play, the one that might do the most for his franchise, may have come off the field. It happened just recently.

Obviously, I refer to the firestorm of controversy surrounding Gonzalez's most recent failed demand to be traded to another team, a situation that will henceforth be known as "Tradegate," a term coined by my fellow Warpaint Illustrated columnist, Pat Clifton.

Tradegate is the greatest play Tony Gonzalez ever made. If the response to Tradegate is appropriate, a new era of Chiefs football might begin. But first, let's recap how the dominos of Tradegate fell ever so perfectly for us to even contemplate such a scenario.

• The Kansas City Chiefs are blasted in Atlanta, 38-14, by the Falcons. Tony Gonzalez, playing with the worst quarterback of his professional life in Tyler Thigpen, catches four passes for 35 yards. According to Bob Gretz, at this point Gonzalez goes to Chiefs General Manager Carl Peterson and his coach, Herm Edwards, and requests a trade.

• The Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos, 33-19. Tony Gonzalez, now playing with a real NFL quarterback, catches three passes for 47 yards and a crucial touchdown. However, late in the game he is denied a chance at breaking Shannon Sharpe's record for career receiving yards by a tight end, frustrating Gonzalez in an otherwise pointless season.

• Gonzalez goes public with the fact that he is upset, despite the win, that he did not break the record at Arrowhead Stadium and will likely break it on the road in Carolina.

• The Chiefs lose to the Carolina Panthers, 34-0. Tony Gonzalez breaks Sharpe's record while enduring one of the most humiliating defeats of his career. The Chiefs fall to 1-4 while putting on the worst display of offensive football of the 2008 NFL season to date.

• Gonzalez goes public with the fact that he wants to be traded to another team.

• Gonzalez vetoes a trade to the Buffalo Bills, according to Jay Glazer.

• Gonzalez vetoes a trade to the Atlanta Falcons, according to Mike Florio.

• Gonzalez remains a Kansas City Chief as the trade deadline passes. Herm Edwards appears frustrated by the situation at his press conference, but claims his player's demands have nothing to do with him personally.

• Carl Peterson is nowhere to be found after turning down several draft picks from different teams for an aging player, leaving his head coach to answer questions about the trade alone.

Incredible. Could Tradegate have played out any more perfectly? It's almost as if some football god preordained everything. If any domino had fallen a little more to the left or to the right, if a butterfly had flapped its wings in central park a little harder, maybe no one is talking about hurricane Tony.

It really is amazing. Look at what had to happen so precisely, so flawlessly, for everything to arrive at this point:

• The Chiefs had to start Tyler Thigpen in order to get blown out in Atlanta. Does Gonzalez request a trade otherwise? Probably not.

• Gonzalez had to drop a pass early in the game against the Broncos in order to set up the endgame, wherein Herm Edwards decided not to throw him a pass to break a record that could have been broken earlier. What if Gonzalez had dragged a defender for a few more yards after one of his other catches? He doesn't go public with his complaints.

• The Chiefs had to get blown out again for Gonzalez to go public with his trade demands. OK, maybe that wasn't so improbable.

• Gonzalez had to actually turn down a trade after requesting one. Twice! To winning football teams! Someone truly committed to bailing on Kansas City might have taken the money and run, so to speak.

• Both Edwards and Peterson had to completely bungle the situation instead of acting like standup professionals. It wouldn't have taken much for Peterson to hop a plane to Kansas City to support his head coach. It would have taken even less for Edwards to actually talk to his player about the situation instead of sticking his head in the sand and pretending everything was OK.

Instead, we were treated to Tradegate, the most entertainment the Chiefs have produced to date this year. Because of a whiny, spoiled professional athlete and his at-odds handlers, we saw just exactly how terrible the atmosphere at One Arrowhead Drive is.

It's not conducive to winning football games whatsoever. It is irreparably damaged. No sane person can come out of the other side of Tradegate thinking, "Huh! This is no big deal. These men will accomplish something together soon enough. They just need more time. Fetch the paperwork for lucrative contract extensions!"

Nope, the whole thing is broken. Tony Gonzalez threw back the curtain and unveiled the horrors of inept management and coaching for all to see. Clark Hunt can't possibly sit back and let another offseason go by without making changes.

Thanks, Tony! Now go dunk a metaphorical football over the goalposts, because they ought to replay Tradegate on ESPN for years. It was one heck of a play.

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