Step 2: What To Do With Gonzalez?

Last time we discussed the Chiefs options with running back Larry Johnson. In our second look at the 10 things the Chiefs need to do to get back on track, we tackle the Tony Gonzalez situation, a big distraction for this football team for nearly two weeks. It was evident on Sunday that this mess is nowhere close to settled. What's the next move?

ESPN's Mike Ditka was less than kind, but 100 percent accurate in regards to the way Gonzalez treated the fans, his teammates and management in requesting a trade out of Kansas City.

"If you played the best football you can play, you will make Kansas City a contender," Ditka said on ESPN radio. "That's no way to act. You're a Kansas City Chief; you'll always be a Kansas City Chief. You had a five-year extension a year ago in your contract, you're making all the money in the world, forget about it. You want to play for a winner, make Kansas City a winner."

If Gonzalez is on Kansas City's roster in 2009, the roster bonuses in his contract start to kick in. He signed that contract, and as Ditka pointed out, his job is to make the Chiefs a winner. I don't share the sentiment that the Chiefs owed Gonzalez anything in regards to exploring or adhering to his trade demands.

The fact that Gonzalez basically wanted to play for one team, the New York Giants, made any trade attempt impossible. After the trade failed, Gonzalez made remarks that teams offered third-round draft picks, and he was correct. Both the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills made those overtures to Kansas City, but Gonzalez didn't want to play for either team despite the fact that both are on track to make the playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers offered a third-round pick, but it was conditional on the number of years Gonzalez would keep playing football. If Gonzalez had retired after the 2009 season, the Chiefs would have had to return the draft pick in 2010. If he had retired at the end of 2010, Green Bay wanted a fourth or fifth-rounder, and so on. Carl Peterson was wise to pass on that deal.

The Chiefs did try to trade Gonzalez, even though Peterson told agent Tom Condon that it would be unlikely any trade would go down unless it involved a second-round pick.

So it's clear what happened, but that didn't stop Gonzalez from spouting off to the media and saying he'll never forget what the organization did to him, that he was upset, and so on. What he failed to mention is the fact the Chiefs made him a rich man. Gonzalez has national endorsements and is on TV every Sunday during the regular season.

Right now Gonzalez's legacy is a bit tarnished and probably will remain so until he publicly states that he will not ask for a trade in the offseason, that he's going to retire a Chief, and he's going to do whatever it takes to make his team a Super Bowl contender.

But that's unlikely. So what's next?

Management should tell Gonzalez he won't be traded this offseason and is expected to honor his contract. It should be made clear that if Gonzalez chooses to hold out or retire, nothing will change.

So all that's left is to put the Chiefs on his back and carry them to a Championship at the end of his career. If he can do that, his legacy will rank among Len Dawson, Bobby Bell and the other great players from the 1969 team.

Tomorrow – Step 3 – Fixing The Offensive Line.

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