Advertisement
Share

NFL great Tony Gonzalez happily upstaged by brother in documentary ‘Play It Forward’

Former Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez practices before a game against the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 3, 1999.

Former Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez practices before a game against the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 3, 1999.

(VC·Vince Compagnone / Los Angeles Times)

Tony Gonzalez was among the greatest tight ends in NFL history. But this story is about his backup.

The documentary “Play It Forward,” which premieres Friday on Showtime, chronicles the rise of Gonzalez as a football star, and the parallel story of his older brother, Chris, who put his own life on hold to help Tony fulfill his dream.

The film, directed by Andrea Nevins, takes an unflinching look at the loving and sometimes contentious bond of the Gonzalez brothers, with Tony pursuing his first playoff victory and Chris, also an outstanding athlete, looking to develop his identity in trying to become a firefighter and paramedic. The story explores the relationship of the entire Gonzalez family, and the heartache associated with the brothers losing their beloved stepfather.

Advertisement

“It’s a film that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you cheer,” said Tony, now a CBS Sports analyst, who retired from playing after the 2013 season. “I’m pretty proud of what we were able to put on film.”

When the documentary was showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival, Tony was surprised and gratified by the reaction of the audience. The crowd was far more moved by the everyman triumphs of his older brother than by anything that happened on the football field.

“He’s the star of the film, and he’s the reason I’m in the position I’m in,” said Tony, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons and holds the NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end at 111. “I would never have even played football if it weren’t for him.

“He put his life on hold to make sure that I was going in the right direction. That’s why I was so happy when the roles got reversed in the film…. People weren’t cheering for me anymore, they were cheering for him.”


Advertisement