DENVER (AP) — Tony Gonzalez is having as much fun talking football as he did playing it.
Now an analyst for CBS Sports, the 14-time Pro Bowl tight end will get an up-close view of Thursday night's showdown between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers featuring the NFL's top two tight ends.
Julius Thomas has nine touchdown catches for Denver (5-1) and Antonio Gates has seven TD grabs for San Diego (5-2).
Gonzalez, who was recruited by Broncos tight end coach Clancy Barone to give some career advice to Thomas last offseason, said he has no regrets about retiring last year after 17 NFL seasons and no rings.
"No, I don't miss the game at all," Gonzalez told The Associated Press. "The fortunate position that I've been is in the game didn't get taken away from me. I got to walk away from the game, which is unlike 98 percent of the league. I got to quit on my terms."
A fitness freak and nutrition devotee, Gonzalez said he knows he could still be playing.
"I think that's why I've been able to have mentally such a good transition," he said. "I could have played. I'm away from the game because I wanted to be. And I loved every part of my NFL experience. It was great. It led me to getting a job on a desk at CBS, a great job."
Gonzalez said he has attacked his new gig the same way he did his old one, working hard every day to get better at his craft.
"Talking about football is a lot easier than playing football. But it's just as exciting, too, with all the people watching you and the cameras in your face," Gonzalez said.
He might even enjoy his three-piece suit more than a football uniform.
"Football is tough, are you kidding me? The amount of work and preparation that you've got to put in and the relentless beat-up of your body that it takes, it's not even close. This is the best gig going," Gonzalez said.
"I talk to Michael Strahan a lot, he's a good friend of mine, and he's like, 'Man, once you get this gig down, once you get really comfortable with it, it's the best gig going. Because you get to talk about football, you don't have to get hit and after the game it doesn't matter who wins loses, you're happy.'"
Gonzalez finished his career with NFL records for tight ends of 1,325 receptions, 15,127 yards receiving, 111 touchdown catches and 31 100-yard receiving games over a dozen years in Kansas City and five in Atlanta.
He said he doesn't miss playing the game.
"I'm in California. I'm sitting out here in the backyard and it feels like 77 degrees, right around there," Thomas said in a recent phone interview from his Huntington Beach home. "A nice little breeze. This is perfect. And I could be out at practice right now in Atlanta — and who knows how hot it is out there right now — and running routes and catching balls and all that other stuff.
"I'm with my family now. My mom's out here. My oldest boy is out here, Nikko, he's living with me. He's 13 now. So, it was important for me to get back with him now, too," said Gonzalez, who has two other children with his wife, October. "So, I got everything I wanted out of football."
Well, not quite.
"I didn't get the Super Bowl ring," Gonzalez said. "But I have a view on that whole Super Bowl ring thing where if it's meant to be, it'll be. You can be a great football player and not get a ring or you can be a horrible football player and get a ring. And I've seen it. I've seen guys walk around with their rings and I'm like, 'I don't even remember you playing on the team.' But they have rings. It was the right place at the right time."
The way Gonzalez sees it, he's right where he should be and the timing couldn't be better.
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