Jay C. Brandriet
Not every position in football has a clear “greatest player.”
I think the tight end falls under that category.
My first memory of a stand out tight end was New York Giant, Mark Bavaro. He had a Rocky Balboa look, that came with a pissed off vibe. Bill Parcells said on the sideline one day, “I wouldn’t want to have to fight that Bavaro. You don’t know what he’s thinking.”
There wouldn’t be tight ends if not for cats like John Mackey, and Mike Ditka.
In the 1980’s, Ozzie Newsome and especially Kellen Winslow pushed the position even further along.
Who’s the best of the best?
The modern guys have the advantage here.
NAMES AT THE TOP
Jason Witten was a coaches dream. He was an all around player, and the leader of the Dallas Cowboys.
Shannon Sharpe was full of fire and muscles. He would detach from the line of scrimmage and help Elway stretch the field. His three rings stand out, because one came with Baltimore.
Antonio Gates may be my favorite pass catcher of the group. He was bulky, yet elegant. Gates scored 118 total touchdowns.
Gronk might have the most overall talent.
He’s a blocker and a yards per catch guy.
He’s made massive plays in a stellar post season career.
Rob is still adding to his legacy.
He’s like a skilled, better looking Frankenstein.
The best football player in my elementary school was Vaisa (Sione) Maile. When Vaisa had the ball, guys would bounce off him like bowling pins. They would jump on his back, get juked, or smartly get out of the way.
Several times while watching Gronkowski, it was like seeing Vaisa in the pros.
The former basketball player posted up and boxed out like no other.
He was a hard nosed athlete, with soft hands.
He has the records, durability, and longevity.
He excelled as a sixth offensive lineman.
Gonzalez played in 16 games, 15 times. Gronk was only able to do that twice.
He was invited to 9 MORE Pro Bowls than Rob.
Tony’s playoff and team success is limited, compared to Gronk.
GRONK OR GONZALEZ?
To compare Gonzalez to an NBA player, he feels like a more famous Karl Malone.
Gronk is more like a less dominant, often injured Shaq. Like a medium Shaq, who has yet to leave the side of Kobe.
I’ll say Gonzalez was the best, and Gronk is 1A.
I have more confidence that these two are the best finalists for the G.O.A.T. tight end, than I do in my conclusion.
Jay C. Brandriet