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D. Orlando Ledbetter

Gonzalez still ticked at ESPN over contrived Ryan flap

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Tony Gonzalez believes the flap over quarterback Matt Ryan was contrived. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

Tony Gonzalez believes the flap over quarterback Matt Ryan was contrived. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

Former Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he wanted to clear the air with Falcons fans about a recent magazine article that suggested he somehow disrespected Matt Ryan.

“There was no firestorm,” Gonzalez said. “They pulled quotes from that article a couple of days before it came out, so now you’re not getting the whole story. ESPN was biased about it and so was the NFL Network. I saw the ticker where it said, ‘Tony calls out his former quarterback’ or whatever. Which is ridiculous.”

Gonzalez and Ryan often dined after games in Buckhead. Their families are close and slight – real or perceived — was intended.

“Matt and I are going on two vacations together,” Gonzalez said. “Me and his wife (Sarah) and my wife (October), we go out to dinner all of the time. Why would I call the guy out, who made the last five years of my career great? Why would I call him out?

“I didn’t call him out. That’s why I didn’t respond to it. I didn’t tweet about it. I didn’t go on a bunch of radio stations. I did a couple of interviews and I was like, I’m not defending myself. This is ridiculous and I talked to Matt, too. It’s a non-story as far as I was concerned.”

Gonzalez was reluctant to group Ryan with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodger and Drew Brees.

“Matt is so close to being at the top of the NFL,” Gonzalez said. “He is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I stand by what I said. The Mount Rushmore for NFL quarterbacks is Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning and those guys are all potentially, you can make an argument. …I know at least two of them are first ballot Hall of Famers and Matt is almost there.”

Gonzalez expect Ryan to continue to ascend in the league, with the help of an improved offensive line.

“With a couple of key replacements, If they get an offensive line where you can give him some time to throw and Julio (Jones) gets backs, Roddy gets back and you have Harry (Douglas) and whoever else they get in there, and Levine (Toilolo, It’s going to be lights out with that guy because he’s that good of a player and he’s still going to get better.”

Gonzalez said he plans to get around to filing his retirement papers soon. That will trigger his countdown to Canton.

“I just haven’t gotten around to it, but I’m going to do it here eventually,” Gonzalez said.

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