Tony Gonzalez chats with The Scores Report

Three years ago, future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez went through two unrelated crises that would change the way he viewed his own health forever.

In early 2007, Gonzalez suffered a bout of facial paralysis known as Bell’s Palsy, which cannot be immediately diagnosed. Before doctors figured out what it was, they told him he might have suffered a stroke, a brain aneurysm, or meningitis. When it was discovered that it was Bell’s Palsy, he was told that the numbness and sagging features in his face would return to normal. For the most part, Gonzalez felt extremely lucky that it wasn’t something more serious.

Later that year, as a member of the Chiefs, Gonzalez went to have routine blood work done before the regular season. Upon leaving the hospital, he received a phone call from the team’s trainer saying that he had to return immediately for another blood test. While giving more blood, the doctor told him that unless the initial test was wrong, that his career was over.

For an hour, Gonzalez waited in agony thinking about how football may be taken away from him. Fortunately, there had been a mix up with another patient and his tests came back normal, but the two traumatic experiences left him feeling as though a change had to be made. Regardless of whether or not he was okay, he knew he had to take better care of his body.

Now, after enlisting the help of dietitian Mitzi Dulan, Gonzalez has his own line of all-natural supplements through his company, All-Pro Science. All the products are 100% all-natural, meaning no synthetics or man-made sugars have been added. There isn’t another supplement maker like APS on the market, because most companies don’t strive to go all-natural.

Tony was kind enough to recently chat with us about All-Pro Science, his new book The All-Pro Diet, as well as how eating healthy has dramatically changed his life. He was also more than willing to talk football with us, including what the 1,000-reception mark means to him (he’s just one catch shy of the honor), what he would like to be remembered for when his playing days are done and what he thinks about Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan’s development. He also shed some light on whether or not he’ll return to football after the 2010 season and boasts that this year’s Falcons squad is the best team he’s ever played on.

For more information on All-Pro Science and their products, click on the link to check out their home page. Tony was kind enough to give our readers 20% off on his products by entering code “88” at the site. And for more on Gonzalez and the Falcons, visit Tony’s official Twitter Page.

The Scores Report: Hi, this is Anthony.

Tony Gonzalez: Anthony, what’s up buddy? This is Tony.

TSR: Tony, how are you man?

TG: Doing well.

TSR: It’s great to talk to you – it’s a real pleasure.

TG: Ah, no problem.

TSR: I’ve been reading your new book over the last couple weeks – I really enjoy it.

TG: Good! We’ve gotten some good responses – people e-mail us all the time. The latest one we got was from a truck driver that was up to 390 and has lost 80 pounds.

TSR: Wow! Good for him.

TG: Yeah, there was another guy last week that lost around 80 pounds, too. The doctor had told him that if he didn’t lose weight he was going to die and he thinks we saved his life. But, you know, all we did was give him the tools to do what he already had in him in terms of accomplishing what he wanted to do. Good stuff though.

TSR: That’s a great story. It’s amazing – eating right and feeling great isn’t a luxury. We can all have it if we make healthy choices.

TG: Yep, and that’s what we’re trying to bring. Whenever I get a chance to talk to a crowd, I’m definitely going to bring up nutrition because of the way I feel and I’m passionate about it.

TSR: In your book, you point out that earlier in your life, you were eating a lot of fast food and really, anything you wanted to. What specifically made you realize that you wanted to make a change?

TG: I had a couple of scares that had nothing to do with nutrition that I mention in the beginning of the book. I had Bell’s Palsy and one time my blood work got mixed up when I was with the Chiefs, so for about an hour I thought I had leukemia. I always knew that nutrition was something that’s important, especially as an athlete. In the book I use the analogy, and this is something I always tell kids, is that our bodies are like racecars. If you want to go around the track and you’re a high-performance NASCAR or Formula 1 car, you have to put high-octane gas in it to go around the track faster. You kind of always know that as an athlete, and really, everyone knows that you have to eat right. But whether people think they don’t have the disciple, or if it’s too hard, or they don’t have the tools, or they feel like they have to sacrifice so much, they don’t do it. I was really no different, but after those scares I said you know what? I’m just going to do it. I’m getting older and I’m getting up there with years in the league. I used to have this chronic, arthritic-type foot that I’ve had surgery on and that was always giving me trouble and making my body sore. So, I just said that I was going to try and eat right; I was going to try it for three weeks and see if it works. If it worked, I would keep doing it. And I actually started off being a vegan, and I felt great. But I lost too much weight, I wasn’t doing it the correct way and I wasn’t getting enough protein.

TSR: Right, I read that in your book.

TG: Yeah, so I went out and met with a couple of people. I contacted the writer of the China Study, which was the book that inspired me to do this whole nutritional change, and I just started researching everything. Then I started talking with Mitzi Dulan and her team to make sure I was doing it the right way and that’s how everything pretty much started with me and then it just kept evolving. But I went out there and learned as much as I could and in me switching up my diet, I found out what worked. I’m still doing it. Still to this day I’m always trying to educate myself on seeing what works best. I’ve kind of hit that sweet spot where I know what works best for me and I think that it works best for the majority of people out there.

TSR: If I’m a regular consumer and I take a walk down the supplement aisle of my grocery store, why All-Pro Science over some of these other brands?

TG: Because it’s all-natural. There are no artificial flavors, no synthetics, no hormones. A lot of those other products are the reason I wanted to come out with my own company, because you never know what you’re going to get – especially with the stipulations that are on us in the NFL, as far as banned supplements are concerned, you kind of have to be careful. I really lucked out being able to start a company like this because I met somebody in that industry who could help out and who could help me form the company. I won’t say names, but some of those other brands are loaded with a bunch of sugar and a bunch of stuff that doesn’t have to be in there. All-natural is a way to go and it’s a lifestyle. Like I tell people in the book, it’s not a diet – it’s a lifestyle. You want to make sure that you’re putting the best stuff in your body, because it’s your body for crying out loud. Forget about being an athlete – that goes for everybody. I always tell people that my products are for everybody. And as we keep developing our line, you know, we hope to come out with multi-vitamins soon, and other cleansers or whatever it is, we want to make sure that it’s all-natural. We want our products to contain stuff that is supposed to be in your body and not synthetic, or man-made.

TSR: While checking out your site, it looks like you have a variety of different kinds of proteins and I saw a pain reliever as well. You mentioned the multi-vitamins, but what else is next for All-Pro Science?

TG: As I go out there and talk to different schools, I think an all-natural weight-gainer would be nice to add to the line. Multi-vitamins, maybe even creatine or a pre-workout product that gives you a little bit of all-natural energy. We are somewhat limited with what we can come out with because we keep everything all-natural. Other companies have hundreds of products but a lot of that stuff is banned or isn’t all-natural. We would love to get the line up to about 20 products and keep it simple. You know, get stuff people really want and really need.

TSR: Cleansers are starting to become more popular, I feel.

TG: Yeah, and to me, taking cleansers aren’t about losing weight. It’s about cleansing your body so you can feel good, you know?

TSR: Right. I’m a hard-gainer myself, so I’m in for an all-natural weight-gainer or creatine.

TG: Yeah, for sure – well, the protein would help you too. That’s 100% grass-fed and you don’t see that on the market. Maybe you will see that in the future once people catch on to that, yeah, cows eat grass and that’s kind of what I want in my body, you’ll see other companies do it. But when they do switch to that, you’ll have to ask yourself, well, what were they putting in their products before?

TSR: (Laughs) No kidding! Do you mind if I ask you a couple of football questions, Tony?

TG: Yeah sure, no problem.

TSR: What does the 1,000-reception mark mean for you as a player?

TG: Well, obviously the history behind it. When you think about how many players caught balls in the NFL, it would be a pretty cool group to be a part of. You know, Jerry (Rice), Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Terrell Owens and all the guys that have done it. It also means having luck and playing with good quarterbacks and being in good systems that got me the ball. It also goes back to what I said about longevity and me being able to stick around for a while. I owe a lot of that to, especially over the last three years, to how I’ve treated my body. I’ve been able to have a lot more energy, more focus and all that good stuff.

TSR: If there were one thing that you would like to be remembered for as a player, what would that be?

TG: Well, obviously I want to be one of the best that have ever played the game. I guess on the field-wise, I would like to win a Super Bowl. (Laughs)

TSR: (Laughs) I can imagine.

TG: But I also want to be known as someone that did it the right way. You know, I didn’t have to go out there and self-promote or do a bunch of extra stuff to get noticed. I want to be known as someone who went out there, went to work and was an overachiever, you know?

TSR: For sure. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone talk negatively about the way you have played the game and that’s a testament to how you carry yourself on and off the field. You’ve always been a popular player.

TG: Yeah, thanks.

TSR: Since arriving in Atlanta, you’ve been a big supporter of Matt Ryan. Can you remember a specific moment during a game last year when you realized he could be something special?

TG: I think I realized that the first day I played with him – I didn’t have to wait until the games started. (Laughs)

TSR: (Laughs)

TG: When I first showed up there, obviously you hear all the hype about him and how good he is. But I came from Missouri, which is the “Show Me State” so I wanted proof. When you get out there and play with him, you see. He’s got the arm, he’s tall and somewhat athletic, I dare say. (Laughs) He has all the intangibles to be a great quarterback, but I think what separates him, and what separates great players, is the mentality to be great – the willingness to be great, not just wanting to be great. He’s willing to go out there and practice hard, watch extra film, get in the weight room…and then the way he gets along with his teammates, the way he’s so confident in the huddle, he’s always poised. It’s not a matter of “if” for him, it’s when. Hopefully his learning curve goes quickly because I don’t care how great you are, you need experience. And the more experience he has, the better he’s going to get because like I said, he has the athletic ability and the intangibles to succeed. Now it’s all about getting experience under his belt and I think he’s going to be a good one for a very long time.

TSR: Give me two Falcons, one offensive and one defensive, that you feel as though don’t get a lot of national attention but are poised for breakout seasons.

TG: I think on our offensive side of the ball it would be Harry Douglas. You know, he had a great rookie season but he’s coming off that injury after getting hurt last year in camp. But he was somebody that was really impressive before he got hurt and if he can come back from that injury I think he’ll be really, really good.

TSR: Yeah, he showed his explosiveness on several occasions in the second half of his rookie year. He tore up the Panthers late in the year.

TG: Yeah, I think he’ll be a huge weapon not only in punt and kick returns, but also in our offense. And then on our defense – he’s coming on the scene right now – is Curtis Lofton, our middle linebacker. He’s just a great player.

TSR: For sure. I can’t wait to see what Lofton and your new number one draft pick, Sean Weatherspoon, can do for your defense. You have two young, athletic players in your linebacker corps.

TG: Yeah, it’s exciting. Hopefully (Weatherspoon) can come in and play right away.

TSR: You have two years left on your contract. Do you foresee yourself finishing in Atlanta or are you going year to year right now?

TG: Well, what, I’m going on year 14 now? I’m pretty much year to year at this point. But I feel great – honestly, I feel really, really good. You know, I feel like I’ve hit the fountain of youth with the whole nutritional and supplement change. So, barring something major happening to me, it’s not about the physical stuff. I can play for a long time, but it’s just about making sure that I mentally want to keep going out there and I’m a part of a successful team. In Kansas City, one of the reasons I wanted out of there was because we weren’t winning and it’s not fun if you’re not winning. I just want to have a good time with it. For me, it’s not about putting up big numbers or big stats, I just want to go out there, win football games and have a good time. I think we can get that done – I think we have a real good football team in Atlanta. It’s exciting and at least on paper, it’ll be the best team I’ve ever played on.

TSR: The Falcons went to the playoffs in 2008, finally produced back-to-back winning seasons last year and now some people are ready for this team to break out. What needs to happen for you guys to take it to the next level?

TG: I think we have to stay healthy. Matt went down last year, Michael Turner went down last year, a couple of our offensive linemen went down last year, so it’s important that we stay healthy. A lot of our guys are going into that third or fourth year and that’s when you start to hit your peak as a player. At least in my opinion, it takes right around three years to understand the speed of this game, to understand the mentality and the mental approach that you have to have. If you can’t get it by three years, something is wrong with you and a lot of our guys are in that third or fourth year. That’s what makes me so excited about it, you know, Matt is in his third year, Harry is in his third year, Roddy is in his sixth year – these guys are hitting their prime playing years. Same thing with our offensive lineman – Sam Baker will be in his third year. It’s exciting and as long as we stay healthy, I think we’re going to be really good.

TSR: You’ve been a pleasure to talk with today, Tony – I’ve always enjoyed watching you play. Before you go, let our readers know where they can find out more information on All-Pro Science.

TG: Right now we’re online, so it’s pretty simple – just go to All-Pro and for all the readers out there, type code “88,” which is my football number so hopefully it’s easy to remember, and get 20% off for anyone that goes there.

TSR: Thanks, Tony!

TG: No problem, Anthony – thanks for having me.

TSR: Take care.

TG: You, too.

Special thanks to Lauren Renschler of EAG Sports Management for setting up the interview.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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